An Post Rás 2017 stage 8

*****

Stage 8, Sunday May 28: Ardee to Skerries (129.4 kilometres):

The race ends with what is the shortest stage of the event, and one which concludes along the same roads as in recent years. The first hour of racing will be flat and fast, heading for Nobber, Navan, Kentstown and Duleek before the first of six climbs. This is the category two Bellewstown (km. 37.9), and is followed by the category three Snowtown Hill/Harbourstown (km. 67.9) and Ringfort View (km. 79.7).

From there the riders will race on to Skerries and the first of four crossings of the finish line. That will begin three 13.8 kilometre laps of the finishing circuit, with the category three climb of Black Hills rearing up at kilometre 92.8, 106.6 and 120.4. They will likely represent the final chances for the race contenders to wrest yellow off the shoulders of the race leader but, if the pattern of recent years continues, that will be far from certain.

—–

12.30: Good morning and welcome to the start of stage eight of the An Post Rás.

12.31: The riders are now underway on this, the final stage of the An Post Rás. All 171 riders have taken the start. 193 started the race, so there were just 22 withdrawals.

12.35: There have been two attackers: Philip Lavery (Tipperary Panduit) and Andrew Tennant (Britain Team Wiggins). They are trying to open a decent lead.

12.36: They have been caught at kilometre four.

This is race director Tony Campbell’s assessment of the stage ahead.

“It’s going to be an interesting final stage. We will be coming up the climb into Bellewstown through the racecourse. Then we will cut across towards Stamullen, then turn right for the Naul, and go up another climb there, Snowton Hill.

“After that we will once again do three laps of the finishing circuit. I feel that’s much better than the two laps we had previously done, it works better for the race.”

He said that while the final stage hasn’t tended to change the general classification, that this year’s route could give a chance for more to happen. “I believe the two climbs before the finishing loop will be decisive. Bringing Bellewstown into it should make the race a lot tighter.”

12.38: Ziga Rucigaj (Slovenia ROG Ljubljana) has attacked. He’s been joined by three others.

12.40: No joy for them: they have been caught. It’s all together.

12.45: As race radio notes, this is the 65th edition of the race. It is also the seventh and final edition backed by An Post. The company is ending its backing due to financial pressures, and new sponsors are being sought.

It’s an extremely well-run event and has a high level of exposure at home and abroad, so hopefully that search for a new backer will be completed soon.

12.48: There are eight riders clear at present.

Andrew Tennant (Britain Team Wiggins) and Michael Cuming (Britain Neon Velo Cycling Team) clipped away and are being chased by six others.

Those chasers are Damien Shaw (Ireland An Post Chain Reaction), Edward Laverack (Britain JLT Condor), Jonas Aaen Jørgensen (Denmark Riwal Platform Cycling), Dennis Bakker (Netherlands Delta Cycling Rotterdam), Christopher McGlinchey (Cycling Ulster) and Philip Lavery (Tipperary Panduit).

12.50: it is back together after 13.7 kilometres. But there will be more attacks; that’s for certain. This last stage always has a breakaway group being chased on that finishing circuit. Sometimes riders have stayed clear; other times, it’s been a bunch gallop.

13.00: The bunch has covered 22.8 kilometres of today’s stage. Things are still together.

At 129.4 kilometres, today’s stage is the shortest of the race. It features six categorised climbs. The first is the category two Bellewstown (km. 61), then the remainder are all category three.

These are at Snowtown Hill/Harbourstown (km. 67.9) and Ringfort View (km. 79.7) and then, on the finishing circuit, there are ascents of the Black Hills at kilometre 92.8, 106.6 and 120.4.

Note: The first climb was listed above as being after 37.9 kilometres; that should be 61 kilometres. It’s now been corrected. Apologies for any confusion!

Laurence Roche is driving the press car. He’s a former pro who rode the 1991 Tour de France. He knows Bellewstown from racing up it in the past and gave his thoughts on the climb.

“It is a hard little hill,” he says. “It is steep going up to the race course. Depending on how they go up it, I’d imagine there will be quite a few out the back.

“There are two ways up it. One is quite wide, but I think they are going up the narrow route. It could definitely be good for a break to get away.”

13.11: A group of approximately ten riders are going clear. They are 50 metres ahead. If it sticks, we’ll give details.

It didn’t. It’s all together coming into Navan. They have covered 32.8 kilometres.

13.14: The riders are all together leaving Navan.

13.18: There are three attackers being chased by one other. They are Joe Evans (Britain Madison Genesis),
Dennis Bakker (Netherlands Delta Cycling Rotterdam) and Mitchell Mulhern (Netherlands Delta Cycling Rotterdam), with Jeremy Durrin (Britain Neon Velo Cycling Team) closing in.

He gets across, so there are now four leaders.

13.20: Five others tried to join but were caught. The four leaders are 100 metres clear and trying to break the elastic.

13.21: They have increased their lead to ten seconds.

AS regards the weather, it’s a lot better than yesterday. There are scattered clouds but it’s bright and warm. Let’s hope it stays like this for the day. The finish in Skerries tends to have very good weather, and also very big crowds. Hopefully that’s the case again this year.

13.28: After 45 kilometres of racing, those leaders have been caught by a big chasing group. That lead group is 20 riders strong. We are awaiting time gaps.

13.31: Those leaders are now 51 seconds clear. That gap has risen quickly – it’s the best advantage thus far today.

13.33: After 48.2 kilometres of racing, there are three chasers at 35 seconds, with the peloton a minute back.

The identities of those out front are:

Eoin Morton (Ireland National Team)
Sean McKenna (Ireland An Post Chain Reaction)
Sasha Weemaes (Belgian National Team)
Thomas Moses (Britain JLT Condor)
Alexandre Blain (Britain Madison Genesis)
Joe Evans (Britain Madison Genesis)
Joey Walker (Britain Team Wiggins)
Elliott Porter (Britain Neon Velo Cycling Team)
Jeremy Durrin (Britain Neon Velo Cycling Team)
Stefan Djurhuus (Denmark Riwal Platform Cycling)
Jerome Mainard (France Armée de Terre)
Dennis Bakker (Netherlands Delta Cycling Rotterdam)
Mitchell Mulhern (Netherlands Delta Cycling Rotterdam)
Matic Groselj (Slovenia ROG Ljubljana)
James Davenport (Cork Strata3 / VeloRevolution)
Conn McDunphy (Donegal Voodoo Performance)
Darnell Moore (Down Bikehouse)
Seán O’Malley (Mayo Westport Towers Bar Covey)
Felix English (Westmeath Team Planet X Carnac)
Keith Finn (Westmeath Team Planet X Carnac)

They are being chased by

Jake Gray (Ireland National Team)
Andrew Tennant (Britain Team Wiggins)
William Bjergfelt (Britain Neon Velo Cycling Team)

13.40: Those three chasers are 55 seconds back.

As for the peloton, it is at one minute and 35 seconds. This move is significant. With many teams represented, it may be hard to bring them back.

13.45: The chasers are losing ground. They are at one minute and ten seconds. The peloton has got closer, though – they are one minute and 30 back.

We are a little ahead of the peloton, and have just driven up the day’s first climb, the second category Bellewstown. It’s steep and could well spice things up. There’s a good crowd on the climb and also over the summit. The sun is out, too, so there should be great atmosphere when the bunch gets there.

13.46: The chasers have been caught.

13.48: The gap has plummeted – it’s down to 30 seconds. Australia has been chasing hard.

13.56: The bunch broke up on that climb, as expected, and 40 riders pushed forward.

13.58: As for the break, the same riders remain out front. James Davenport (Cork Strata3 / VeloRevolution) has lost contact, though.

They have passed the halfway point of today’s stage.

14.00: We are awaiting results of the Bellewstown and Snowtown Hill/Harbourstown climbs. Race radio has been breaking up due to someone on a motorbike inadvertently pressing the button.

At kilometre 73, there are 22 leaders 30 seconds clear of a chasing group containing the yellow jersey.

14.02: Here are the results of the day’s first two climbs.

Category two climb of Bellewstown (km. 61)

1, Sean McKenna(Ireland An Post Chain Reaction)
2, Elliott Porter(Britain Neon Velo Cycling Team)
3, Joey Walker(Britain Team Wiggins)
4, Dennis Bakker(Netherlands Delta Cycling Rotterdam)
5, Joe Evans(Britain Madison Genesis)
6, Jerome Mainard(France Armée de Terre)

Category three climb of Snowtown Hill/Harbourstown (km. 67.9)

1, Michael Storer (Australia National Team)
2, Sean McKenna (Ireland An Post Chain Reaction)
3, Cameron Meyer (Australia National Team)
4, Stefan Djurhuus (Denmark Riwal Platform Cycling)

14.16: The first group is 40 seconds ahead of the jersey group. Bear with us – we are getting a list together of the riders in the front group.

Category three climb of Ringfort View (km. 79.7):

1, Sean McKenna (Ireland An Post Chain Reaction)
2, Aureliusz Klus (Cork MSL Mercedes-Benz Giant)
3, Michael Storer (Australia National Team)
4, Cameron Meyer (Australia National Team)

14.18: The gap remains 40 seconds. The peloton is four minutes and ten seconds back (!)

These are the 22 leaders:

Eoin Morton (Ireland National Team)
Matthew Teggart (Ireland An Post Chain Reaction)
Sean McKenna (Ireland An Post Chain Reaction)
Cameron Meyer (Australia National Team)
Michael Storer (Australia National Team)
Sasha Weemaes (Belgian National Team)
Alexandre Blain (Britain Madison Genesis)
Joe Evans (Britain Madison Genesis)
Joey Walker (Britain Team Wiggins)
Elliott Porter (Britain Neon Velo Cycling Team)
Jeremy Durrin (Britain Neon Velo Cycling Team)
Stefan Djurhuus (Denmark Riwal Platform Cycling)
Troels Ronning Vinther (Denmark Riwal Platform Cycling)
Jonas Aaen Jørgensen (Denmark Riwal Platform Cycling)
Jerome Mainard (France Armée de Terre)
Dennis Bakker (Netherlands Delta Cycling Rotterdam)
Mitchell Mulhern (Netherlands Delta Cycling Rotterdam)
Matic Groselj (Slovenia ROG Ljubljana)
Conn McDunphy (Donegal Voodoo Performance)
Darnell Moore (Down Bikehouse)
Felix English (Westmeath Team Planet X Carnac)
Keith Finn (Westmeath Team Planet X Carnac)

However we are not certain if English is still there; there were suggestions that he might have slipped back.

At 86.4 kilometres, the time gap is now 45 seconds. The leaders are entering Skerries to cross the finish line for the first time.

14.24: On the finish line, the gap was 45 seconds. The crowds are huge in the finish (by which we mean there are many of them, not that the are giants).

14.29: The riders are now on the first of three laps of this finishing circuit. They did part of it in heading to Skerries.

14.31: The yellow jersey is driving the chase behind.

14.34: The gap is up to 50 seconds… Michael Storer (Australia)

Okay, we’ve analysed the composition of the lead group and compared the first break to the current break. As mentioned, race radio was garbled at times. A chase group got across to the initial 20 man move, and then a further selection of 22 was formed.

Five new riders are part of this, along with 17 from the original break.

These were the additions:

Matthew Teggart (Ireland An Post Chain Reaction)
Cameron Meyer (Australia National Team)
Michael Storer (Australia National Team)
Troels Ronning Vinther (Denmark Riwal Platform Cycling)
Jonas Aaen Jørgensen (Denmark Riwal Platform Cycling)

These are the riders who were in the first move:

Eoin Morton (Ireland National Team)
Sean McKenna (Ireland An Post Chain Reaction)
Sasha Weemaes (Belgian National Team)
Alexandre Blain (Britain Madison Genesis)
Joe Evans (Britain Madison Genesis)
Joey Walker (Britain Team Wiggins)
Elliott Porter (Britain Neon Velo Cycling Team)
Jeremy Durrin (Britain Neon Velo Cycling Team)
Stefan Djurhuus (Denmark Riwal Platform Cycling)
Jerome Mainard (France Armée de Terre)
Dennis Bakker (Netherlands Delta Cycling Rotterdam)
Mitchell Mulhern (Netherlands Delta Cycling Rotterdam)
Matic Groselj (Slovenia ROG Ljubljana)
Conn McDunphy (Donegal Voodoo Performance)
Darnell Moore (Down Bikehouse)
Felix English (Westmeath Team Planet X Carnac)
Keith Finn (Westmeath Team Planet X Carnac)

However we are not certain if English is still there; there were suggestions that he might have slipped back.

At 86.4 kilometres, the time gap is now 45 seconds. The leaders are entering Skerries to cross the finish line for the first time.

14.24: On the finish line, the gap was 45 seconds. The crowds are huge in the finish (by which we mean there are many of them, not that they are giants).

14.30: The climb results:

Category three climb of the Black Hills:

1, Sean McKenna (Ireland An Post Chain Reaction)
2, Michael Storer (Australia National Team)
3, Matthew Teggart (Ireland An Post Chain Reaction)
4, Cameron Meyer (Australia National Team)

14.37: It is 40 seconds now.

14.39: Heading for Skerries again and the start of the second of three finishing circuits, the gap is down to 30 seconds.

14.40: Now it’s just 25 seconds – the yellow jersey James Gullen has done a great job. The cars between the break and the chase group have been pulled out. This looks like it’s coming back together.

14.44: The gap is now just 100 metres…

The circuit takes us along the coast…its really picturesuq

14.45: After 102.7 kilometres, the leaders and the chase group have merged. And now Alexandre Blain (Madison Genesis) and Darnell Moore (Down Bikehouse) attack.

14.47: Gullen’s JLT Condor team are leading the chase.

14.49: The leaders are on the climb once again. Australia is leading.

This is why:

Mountains:

1, Przemyslaw Kasperkiewicz (Ireland An Post Chain Reaction) 59
2, Michael Storer (Australia National Team) 40 pts
3, Dexter Gardias (Britain Bike Channel Canyon) 27
4, Gruffudd Lewis (Britain Madison Genesis) 26
5, Daan Meijers (Netherlands Delta Cycling Rotterdam) 17

That’s the mountains classification this morning. Przemyslaw Kasperkiewicz was 19 points clear of Storer, but the latter has clocked up 12 points thus far today. He’s trying to grab the mountains jersey on this final stage.

14.50: However it looks like Kasperkiewicz has responded, taking maximum points on the penultimate climb of this year’s race.

Category three climb of the Black Hills:

1, Przemyslaw Kasperkiewicz (Ireland An Post Chain Reaction)
2, Michael Storer (Australia National Team)
3, Samuel Jenner (Australia National Team)
4, Mark Dowling (Cork Strata3 / VeloRevolution)

14.51: Kasperkiewicz. Storer, Samuel Jenner (both Australia national team), Jerome Mainard (France Armée de Terre) and Mark Dowling (Cork Strata3 / VeloRevolution) have gone forward after the climb.

14.58: They now have 33 seconds heading to Skerries for the start of the final lap.

14.59: At kilometre 112.4, they have 34 seconds.

15.00: The leaders cross the finish line for the second-last time. They have 35 seconds with 13.8 kilometres to go.

15.05: It’s now 32 seconds…this could be close.

15.06: Heading onto the final ascent of Black Hills, they have 30 seconds…

15.08: It’s dropped to 22 seconds…can they hang on? The suspense is building at the finish…

15.09: Race leader James Gullen’s JTL Condor team plus Team Wiggins are driving the chase. The former wants to secure yellow, the latter wants to go for the bunch sprint.

Out front, the break digs deep to try to hold on…

15.11: The leaders have 26 seconds on top of the climb.

And here are the results of the final climb of this year’s race:

Category three climb of the Black Hills (km 120.4):

1, Michael Storer (Australia National Team)
2, Przemyslaw Kasperkiewicz (Ireland An Post Chain Reaction)
3, Samuel Jenner (Australia National Team)
4, Mark Dowling (Cork Strata3 / VeloRevolution)

We think that should confirm Kasperkiewicz as the winner of that classification, but that remains to be confirmed…

15.13: With eight kilometres to go they have 27 seconds… That’s better than what they had a few kilometres ago, but the bunch can really speed up at the end. Will they hold on?

15.15: It’s now up to 32 seconds…that will encourage them, but also spur the bunch on to chase harder.

15.16: Now 33 seconds… Nobody in this break is a threat to Gullen’s yellow jersey. Unless he crashes, punctures or has a mechanical, he is set to win this race. But the stage win is very much up for grabs.

15.19: They stay clear…who will get it…

15.20: It’s Kasperkiewicz! He wins the gallop to the line…

It looks like Jerome Mainard (France Armée de Terre) took second with Samuel Jenner (Australia National Team) third. That’s subject to confirmation.

Dowling took fourth…that’s a fine result for the Irishman.

15.28: We are awaiting confirmation of the final results. However Gullen will win overall – congratulations to him.

15.40: Still waiting for the official results…bear with us…

Okay, here is the top six. Jenner actually pipped Mainard for second.

An Post Rás (2.2)

Stage 8, Ardee to Skerries:

1, Przemyslaw Kasperkiewicz (Ireland An Post Chain Reaction)
2, Samuel Jenner (Australia National Team)
3, Jerome Mainard (France Armée de Terre)
4, Mark Dowling (Cork Strata3 / VeloRevolution)
5, Michael Storer (Australia National Team)
6, Gerben Thijssen (Belgian National Team)

More results to follow…

16.08: We’ve got provisional results for the stage and overall – more to follow later. Here you go:

An Post Rás (2.2)

Stage 8, Ardee to Skerries:

1, Przemyslaw Kasperkiewicz (Ireland An Post Chain Reaction) 129.4 kilometres in 2 hours 47 mins 9 secs
2, Samuel Jenner (Australia National Team)
3, Jerome Mainard (France Armée de Terre)
4, Mark Dowling (Cork Strata3 / VeloRevolution) all same time
5, Michael Storer (Australia National Team) at 2 secs
6, Gerben Thijssen (Belgian National Team) at 23 secs
7, Morgan Kneisky (France Armée de Terre)
8, Sasha Weemaes (Belgian National Team)
9, Christopher Latham (Britain Team Wiggins)
10, Mark Downey (Ireland National Team)
11, Alexandre Blain (Britain Madison Genesis)
12, Dennis Bakker (Netherlands Delta Cycling Rotterdam)
13, Matthew Teggart (Ireland An Post Chain Reaction)
14, Jonas Aaen Jørgensen (Denmark Riwal Platform Cycling)
15, Jeremy Durrin (Britain Neon Velo Cycling Team) all same time

Overall classification after stage eight:

1, James Gullen (Britain JLT Condor) 26 hours 47 mins 56 secs
2, Ike Groen (Netherlands Delta Cycling Rotterdam) at 1 min 5 secs
3, Cameron Meyer (Australia National Team) at 2 mins 35
4, Troels Ronning Vinther (Denmark Riwal Platform Cycling) at 4 mins 26
5, Damien Shaw (Ireland An Post Chain Reaction) at 4 mins 32 secs
6, Morgan Kneisky (France Armée de Terre) at 5 mins 34 secs
7, Thómas Rostollon (France Armée de Terre) at 7 mins 10 secs
8, Michael O’Loughlin (Britain Team Wiggins) at 7 mins 13 secs
9, Matthew Teggart (Ireland An Post Chain Reaction) at 9 mins 16 secs
10, Jonas Aaen Jørgensen (Denmark Riwal Platform Cycling) same time

So, in these (provisional) results, two riders appear to have lost out on their places in the top ten. These are their names and their previous positions:

7, Stéphane Poulhies (France Armée de Terre) at 5 mins 49 secs
10, Daan Meijers (Netherlands Delta Cycling Rotterdam) at 7 mins 32 secs

Points classification:

1, Dennis Bakker (Netherlands Delta Cycling Rotterdam) 53
2, Yannis Yssaad (France Armée de Terre) 42
3, Christopher Latham (Britain Team Wiggins) 41
4, Matthew Teggart (Ireland An Post Chain Reaction) 39
5, Mark Downey (Ireland National Team) 31

Mountains:

1, Przemyslaw Kasperkiewicz (Ireland An Post Chain Reaction) 68
2, Michael Storer (Australia National Team) 61 pts
3, Sean McKenna(Ireland An Post Chain Reaction) 26
4, Elliott Porter(Britain Neon Velo Cycling Team) 18
5, Thómas Rostollon(France Armée de Terre) 16

Young rider:

1, Michael O’Loughlin (Britain Team Wiggins) 26 hours 55 mins 9 secs
2, Matthew Teggart (Ireland An Post Chain Reaction) at 2 mins 3 secs
3, Mark Downey (Ireland National Team) at 2 mins 4 secs
4, Daire Feeley (Galway Team iTap) at 3 mins 5 secs
5, Michael Storer (Australia National Team) at 3 mins 10 secs

County rider:

1, Daire Feeley (Galway Team iTap) 26 hours 58 mins 14 secs

We have only partial results thus far – apologies. We’ll leave the updates here for now – will update this later when we get more.

Thanks for following updates on what was a great race. Plenty of action on the final stage, thanks in part to a tougher route than before. But the riders also played a big part in that, going for it on this last day.

Thanks for reading! We hope to be back next year with more coverage of this great event. The title sponsor will be changing, and so the organisers are seeking a new backer. Thanks to An Post for what has been a great seven years; the company has done a lot for Irish cycling.

*****

An Post Rás 2017 stage 7

*****

Stage 7, Saturday May 27: Donegal to Ardee (167.3 kilometres):

The penultimate stage is far flatter than stage six, lacking any climbs and also lacking An Post sprints. It is the fifth stage located in Donegal but heads southeast to Ardee in Louth, covering 167.3 kilometres along the way. After leaving Donegal town the peloton will head through Kesh, Enniskillen, Tamlaght, Clones, Newbliss, Cootehill, Shercock and Carrickmacross before heading into Ardee and disputing the stage finish.

—–

11.00: Good morning and welcome to the live coverage from the penultimate stage of this year’s An Post Rás. It’s bucketing rain here in Donegal town and the riders are facing what could be a grim few hours ahead. They’ll hope the weather lifts and things dry up. The forecast gives a 50-60% chance of rain for the whole stage.

This was race director Tony Campbell’s assessment of the day ahead:

“This is another long stage. There is nothing major on it, in terms of climbs, but there is going to be a lot of very good roads for racing on. They are very twisting and will definitely favour a break.

“It will be another day when there could be big splits. The speed will be the big factor on this stage.”

11.04: That assessment is not taking weather into account: that could also influence the racing.

The riders are now underway. All 173 riders who finished yesterday have taken the start today.

11.06: Today’s stage passes through Northern Ireland and the police there will take over during that portion of the race. The race doesn’t visit the six counties very often, but is doing so today on the way back from Donegal.

11.10: The mountains leader Przemyslaw Kasperkiewicz (Ireland An Post Chain Reaction) attacked. There are no points up for grabs in that competition today, so that’s not his motivation.

His team is looking for a new title sponsor after An Post confirmed it will not renew after this year. You can read more about that here [click].

11.20: He was brought back.

11.25: Damien Shaw (An Post Chain Reaction) tries to go clear, but has only a small gap.

11.26: At 16.3 kilometres, it’s all back together.

11.34: At 23.3 kilometres, the peloton remains intact. Nothing is sticking thus far.

11.36: The riders are now entering Northern Ireland.

There is now an eight rider leading group.

Angus Fyffe (Ireland National Team)
Joe Evans (Britain Madison Genesis)
Jeremy Durrin (Britain Neon Velo Cycling Team)
Daan Meijers (Netherlands Delta Cycling Rotterdam)
Tilen Finkst (Slovenia ROG Ljubljana)
Simon Ryan (Cork Strata3 / VeloRevolution)
Philip Lavery (Tipperary Panduit)
Fintan Ryan (Westmeath Team Planet X Carnac)

11.40: At 28 kilometres, the peloton is back together.

11.42: It’s still together – nothing else has gone clear yet. It’s still raining.

11.49: There are four riders clear now:

Jake Gray (Ireland National Team)
Dexter Gardias (Britain Bike Channel Canyon)
Marc Potts (Britain Neon Velo Cycling Team)
Jan Willem Van Schip (Netherlands Delta Cycling Rotterdam)

They are being chased by Samuel Jenner (Australia National Team)

11.50: Jenner gets across, so there is now a leading group of five riders.

11.51: Angus Fyffe (Ireland national team) has also bridged. So, six out front.

11.55: They are increasing their lead – it’s up to 14 seconds.

11.57: And now 18 seconds…they are riding well.

The rain continues to spit down. It’s not terribly heavy, but enough to dampen the mood of the bunch and potentially demotivate the chase.

12.09: The gap is 26 seconds after 52.3 kilometres of racing. They are working hard but not really breaking the elastic just yet.

12.16: Excuse the delay in updates; this trip through the North has caused complications as the normal internet connection won’t work. We’ve worked out A Cunning Plan (a workaround) and will update this way until we cross the border again.

12.18: At kilometre 59.4, the gap is down to 14 seconds. Thus far, this stage feels like it will end in a bunch sprint, although much could yet happen.

12.19: It’s now less than ten seconds…

12.21: Now just 100 metres between the leaders and the peloton. This break is coming back.

12.23: They have been caught, 64 kilometres in to the stage. Good effort but things are being tightly controlled today.

Yesterday was expected to bring a huge GC battle but, in the end, that didn’t really materialize. The top 14 riders overall ended up in exactly the same position as before, and nobody gained any time.

This is how the GC looks today:

Overall classification after stage six:

1, James Gullen (Britain JLT Condor) 20 hours 27 mins 11 secs
2, Ike Groen (Netherlands Delta Cycling Rotterdam) at 1 min 5 secs
3, Cameron Meyer (Australia National Team) at 2 mins 35
4, Troels Ronning Vinther (Denmark Riwal Platform Cycling) at 4 mins 32
5, Damien Shaw (Ireland An Post Chain Reaction) same time
6, Morgan Kneisky (France Armée de Terre) at 5 mins 34 secs
7, Stéphane Poulhies (France Armée de Terre) at 5 mins 49 secs
8, Thómas Rostollon (France Armée de Terre) at 7 mins 10 secs
9, Michael O’Loughlin (Britain Team Wiggins) at 7 mins 13 secs
10, Daan Meijers (Netherlands Delta Cycling Rotterdam) at 8 mins 30 secs
11, Regan Gough (Ireland An Post Chain Reaction) at 9 mins 1 sec
12, Matthew Teggart (Ireland An Post Chain Reaction) at 9 mins 16 secs
13, Jonas Aaen Jørgensen (Denmark Riwal Platform Cycling) at 9 mins 22 secs
14, Mark Downey (Ireland National Team) at 9 mins 23 secs
15, Daire Feeley (Galway Team iTap) at 10 mins 18 secs

Gullen is in a strong position at this point in time and will be increasingly confident about winning this race.

12.29: There is a small split off the front of the peloton with about 20 riders going clear. Let’s see if this develops into anything…

12.31: Race radio has given an update – actually 14 riders clear. They are:

Mark Downey (Ireland National Team)
Damien Shaw (Ireland An Post Chain Reaction)
Matthew Teggart (Ireland An Post Chain Reaction)
James Gullen (Britain JLT Condor)
Robert-Jon McCarthy (Britain JLT Condor)
Andrew Tennant (Britain Team Wiggins)
William Bjergfelt (Britain Neon Velo Cycling Team)
Troels Ronning Vinther (Denmark Riwal Platform Cycling)
Jonas Aaen Jørgensen (Denmark Riwal Platform Cycling)
Morgan Kneisky (France Armée de Terre)
Ike Groen (Netherlands Delta Cycling Rotterdam)
Jan Willem Van Schip (Netherlands Delta Cycling Rotterdam)
Daan Meijers (Netherlands Delta Cycling Rotterdam)
Izidor Penko (Slovenia ROG Ljubljana)

12.33: Alexandre Blain (Britain Madison Genesis) is chasing alone, 30 seconds back.

The peloton is at 50 seconds. This stage has suddenly come alive – good to see.

12.35: Blain is now sitting up and waiting for the peloton, which is now 45 seconds back.

12.39: A new time check: at 75.3 kilometres, the break is now 42 seconds ahead of the bunch.

12.42: It’s now down to 20 seconds…the bunch has put the hammer down.

The average speed thus far today is 48.3 kilometres per hour.

12.46: They have been caught after 82 kilometres of racing.

12.48: Four riders clip away:

Darragh O’Mahony (Ireland National Team)
Regan Gough (Ireland An Post Chain Reaction)
Daan Meijers (Netherlands Delta Cycling Rotterdam)
Tilen Finkst (Slovenia ROG Ljubljana)

They are chased by Jan Willem Van Schip (Netherlands Delta Cycling Rotterdam), who gets across. So there’s a leading group of five.

12.52: They are now holding a 100 metre gap over the bunch.

12.54: They have opened that gap. It’s up to 12 seconds.

The rain continues to splatter down. We are passing through Clones.

13.00: The rain is heavier now….after a week of dry weather and with plenty of sun, things have definitely turned.

The forecast is for no rain tomorrow. The finish in Skerries has generally featured very good weather, so let’s hope that pattern continues.

13.04: That break is gaining time – it’s up to one minute now. Sean Lacey (Cork Aqua Blue Sport) isn’t happy with this and tries to get away from the peloton.

13.06: We must not have heard this on race radio: Moreno de Pauw (Belgian National Team) has been chasing. He’s 13 seconds back.

13.07: He’s now losing a little ground – 16 seconds.

13.10: Put on the kettle – the rain is getting heavier…

Laurence Roche is driving the press car. It’s got a huge sunroof, which is great for seeing the splatters of rain. Not sure that’s the intended function. Come back sun…!

13.11: The five leaders increase their lead over the peloton – it’s now one minute and 30 seconds.

13.17: Now De Pauw is at 55 seconds, so he’s losing ground quickly. The peloton is now at one minute 50 seconds. They are at kilometre 105.3. There’s exactly 62 kilometres to go.

13.21: Both De Pauw and the bunch continue to lose ground. The gaps increase to one minute 15 and two minutes five seconds respectively.

13.25: They are now one minute 35 ahead of De Pauw, who is soldiering on in no man’s land.

13.32: He’s now given up and is waiting for the bunch.

We are ahead of the break and winding our way on twisting roads. Green hedging is on both sides, and there are rolling tree-dotted hills to the left and right. A soggy cow stands in the rain chomping grass.

13.39: I think the bunch was looking at the sights too: the latest gap is two minutes and 50 seconds.

13.46: The riders are heading for Shercock (km 130.2), then will pass through Carrickmacross (km 143) prior to the finish in Ardee. That’s at kilometre 167.3.

The rain continues to fall: it’s been a really tough day in terms of weather.

13.49: The gap has dropped to two minutes and 30 seconds. The bunch may be knuckling down to the chase.

A reminder – these are the riders who are clear:

Darragh O’Mahony (Ireland National Team)
Regan Gough (Ireland An Post Chain Reaction)
Daan Meijers (Netherlands Delta Cycling Rotterdam)
Tilen Finkst (Slovenia ROG Ljubljana)
Jan Willem Van Schip (Netherlands Delta Cycling Rotterdam)

It’s a good mix of teams, but they could ideally do with a few more represented.

13.53: In Shercock, the bunch is two minutes 30 behind.

13.57: It falls to two minutes 15. The fightback is on.

Meanwhile the rain is getting heavier and heavier. Fortunately it’s not that cold today.

14.05: The leaders have 25 kilometres to go…head down time, try to fend off the inevitable chase.

Latest gap is one minute and 50 seconds.

14.09: It’s gone up slightly – two minutes… And the rain gets even harder.

14.12: The leaders have 20 kilometres to go. There are five chasers two minutes behind the leaders.

The chasers have been caught. Two minutes between the break and the peloton.

14.22: At kilometre 155, the break is one minute 30 ahead. That’s 12.3 kilometres from the finish. At this rate they could stay away, but it depends on how hard the bunch chases. Right now the Armee de Terre team of yesterday’s winner Yannis Yassad is chasing hard.

14.24: Ten kilometres to go for the leaders… a watch is running there, we’ll get you a time gap when we can.

14.25: It’s one minute and 25 seconds. It’s possible for the break to stay clear, but one thing that will work against them is that the roads heading to the finish are wide open and straight, making the break visible. That will spur the bunch on.

Still, regardless, the riders out front will give it everything in the hope of a stage win.

Again, these are the leaders:

Darragh O’Mahony (Ireland National Team)
Regan Gough (Ireland An Post Chain Reaction)
Daan Meijers (Netherlands Delta Cycling Rotterdam)
Tilen Finkst (Slovenia ROG Ljubljana)
Jan Willem Van Schip (Netherlands Delta Cycling Rotterdam)

14.27: One minute 15 seconds…

14.29: One minute and five seconds at kilometre 170.4: So, seven kilometres from the finish.

14.30: Five kilometres to go for the leaders…

14.35: The lead group is breaking up..

The two Delta riders are together…racing for the line…

14.37: They roll in together, arms aloft…great one two for them.

14.38: Daan Meijers takes the win, ahead of his Netherlands Delta Cycling Rotterdam teammate Jan Willem Van Schip.

Stand by for more information…

Okay, here’s the top five –

1, Daan Meijers (Netherlands Delta Cycling Rotterdam)
2, Jan Willem Van Schip (Netherlands Delta Cycling Rotterdam)
3, Regan Gough (Ireland An Post Chain Reaction)
4, Darragh O’Mahony (Ireland National Team)
5, Tilen Finkst (Slovenia ROG Ljubljana)

Yannis Yssaad (France Armée de Terre) and Christopher Latham (Britain Team Wiggins) led in the bunch. We are awaiting official time gaps and some more results – coming soon!

14.46: As is noted on the podium, the rain stopped for the finish…good timing…

15.03: Here are the results for the stage and the updated overall classification:

An Post Rás (2.2)

Stage seven, Donegal to Ardee:

1, Daan Meijers (Netherlands Delta Cycling Rotterdam) 167.3 kilometres in 3 hours 32 mins 15 secs
2, Jan Willem Van Schip (Netherlands Delta Cycling Rotterdam) same time
3, Regan Gough (Ireland An Post Chain Reaction) at 5 secs
4, Darragh O’Mahony (Ireland National Team) same time
5, Tilen Finkst (Slovenia ROG Ljubljana) at 7 secs
6, Yannis Yssaad (France Armée de Terre) at 52 secs
7, Christopher Latham (Britain Team Wiggins)
8, Gerben Thijssen (Belgian National Team)
9, Richard Maes (Kerry Killarney)
10, Ziga Jerman (Slovenia ROG Ljubljana)
11, Mark Downey (Ireland National Team)
12, Fintan Ryan (Westmeath Team Planet X Carnac)
13, Jules Hesters (Belgian National Team)
14, Noah Granigan (USA CCB Velotooler)
15, Alexandre Blain (Britain Madison Genesis) all same time

City North county rider:

1, Richard Maes (Kerry Killarney) 3 hours 33 mins 7 secs
2, Fintan Ryan (Westmeath Team Planet X Carnac)
3, Simon Ryan (Cork Strata3 / VeloRevolution)
4, Christopher McGlinchey (Cycling Ulster) all same time
5, Cameron McIntyre (Cycling Ulster) at 6 secs

Team (non-county):

1, Netherlands Delta Cycling Rotterdam, 10 hours 37 mins 37 secs
2, Ireland national team, 10 hours 38 mins 40 secs
3, Slovenia ROG Ljubljana, 10 hours 38 mins 42 secs
4, Ireland An Post Chain Reaction, 10 hours 36 mins 46 secs
5, Belgian national team, 10 hours 39 mins 27 secs

Irish county team:

1, Cycling Ulster, 10 hours 39 mins 33 secs
2, Antrim Phoenix, 10 hours 39 mins 39 secs
3, Tipperary Panduit, same time
4, Cork Strata3/VeloRevolution, 10 hours 39 mins 53 secs
5, Down Bikehouse, 10 hours 39 mins 59 secs

Overall classification after stage six:

1, James Gullen (Britain JLT Condor) 24 hours 24 secs
2, Ike Groen (Netherlands Delta Cycling Rotterdam) at 1 min 5 secs
3, Cameron Meyer (Australia National Team) at 2 mins 35
4, Troels Ronning Vinther (Denmark Riwal Platform Cycling) at 4 mins 26
5, Damien Shaw (Ireland An Post Chain Reaction) at 4 mins 32 secs
6, Morgan Kneisky (France Armée de Terre) at 5 mins 34 secs
7, Stéphane Poulhies (France Armée de Terre) at 5 mins 49 secs
8, Thómas Rostollon (France Armée de Terre) at 7 mins 10 secs
9, Michael O’Loughlin (Britain Team Wiggins) at 7 mins 13 secs
10, Daan Meijers (Netherlands Delta Cycling Rotterdam) at 7 mins 32 secs
11, Regan Gough (Ireland An Post Chain Reaction) at 8 mins 8 secs
12, Matthew Teggart (Ireland An Post Chain Reaction) at 9 mins 16 secs
13, Jonas Aaen Jørgensen (Denmark Riwal Platform Cycling) same time
14, Mark Downey (Ireland National Team) at 9 mins 17 secs
15, Daire Feeley (Galway Team iTap) at 10 mins 18 secs

Points classification:

1, Daan Meijers (Netherlands Delta Cycling Rotterdam) 59 points
2, Dennis Bakker (Netherlands Delta Cycling Rotterdam) 49
3, Yannis Yssaad (France Armée de Terre) 42
4, Stéphane Poulhies (France Armée de Terre) 41
5, Jan Willem Van Schip (Netherlands Delta Cycling Rotterdam) 37

Mountains:

1, Przemyslaw Kasperkiewicz (Ireland An Post Chain Reaction) 59
2, Michael Storer (Australia National Team) 40 pts
3, Dexter Gardias (Britain Bike Channel Canyon) 27
4, Gruffudd Lewis (Britain Madison Genesis) 26
5, Daan Meijers (Netherlands Delta Cycling Rotterdam) 17

Young rider:

1, Michael O’Loughlin (Britain Team Wiggins) 24 hours 7 mins 37 sec
2, Regan Gough (Ireland An Post Chain Reaction) at 55 secs
3, Matthew Teggart (Ireland An Post Chain Reaction) at 2 mins 3 secs
4, Mark Downey (Ireland National Team) at 2 mins 4 secs
5, Daire Feeley (Galway Team iTap) at 3 mins 5 secs

County rider:

1, Daire Feeley (Galway Team iTap) 24 hours 10 mins 36 secs
2, Philip Lavery (Tipperary Panduit) at 4 mins 40 secs
3, Christopher McGlinchey (Cycling Ulster) at 4 mins 48 secs
4, Lindsay Watson (Cycling Ulster) at 15 mins 45 secs
5, Mark Dowling (Cork Strata3 / VeloRevolution) at 17 mins 8 secs

Team (non-county):

1, Netherlands Delta Cycling Rotterdam, 72 hours 11 mins 27 secs
2, Ireland An Post Chain Reaction, at 2 mins 24 secs
3, France Armée de Terre, at 6 mins 55 secs
4, Australia National Team, at 16 mins 53 secs
5, Denmark Riwal Platform, at 20 mins 50 secs

So, not much change overall, save for Meijers reducing his overnight deficit slightly. He stays tenth overall, though.

We’ll leave it there for now – interviews to do next! Thanks for reading coverage from this very wet stage of the race. Come back tomorrow for the final stage, where we expect better weather. Thanks for reading!

*****

An Post Ras 2017 Stage 6

*****

Stage 6, Friday May 26: Dungloe to Donegal (132.1 kilometres):

After the longest stage the An Post Rás continues with the second-shortest, a 132.1 kilometre race to Donegal town. This is one of the hilliest of this year’s race in featuring six categorised climbs, and will represent a big challenge for whomever is the race leader.

The first of those ascents is the category three Loughnambraddan and comes 17.5 kilometres after the drop of the flag. A lull in climbing follows as the riders race to Glenties, Clooney, Naran and Ardara, after which they will battle up the category one Glengesh Pass (km. 60.5), the category three Altclogh (km. 72.8), Maeenavaghran (category two, km 80.6) and then the category three pairing of Cashling (km. 89.3) and Kilcar (km. 95).

Another lull follows on the flatter roads through Killybegs, Bruckless and Dunkineely (km. 114.2), where an An Post prime will be held. Soon afterwards the day’s final climb looms, the category three Drumbeagh (km. 124), with the summit just over eight kilometres from the stage end in Donegal town.

—–

11.00: Good morning and welcome from Dungloe town. Today is the sixth stage of this year’s An Post Rás and there is a big day in store. Plenty of climbing, and plenty of attacking.

This is race director Tony Campbell’s assessment of the day ahead:

“This is a short stage, but there is a lot of climbing in it. It also includes Glengesh which, like Mamore Gap two days ago, is a very tough climb. The big thing about it is you can see it for so long in front of you and you know that it is coming.

“It is going to really break things up. There will be a lot of chasing, chasing, chasing after that. Then there is a very, very hard climb coming out of Glencolmcille. I think that there will be a lot of riders not getting back on after Glengesh because of those later climbs. It’s going to be a tough day.”

11.04: The flag has dropped and the race is on.

178 riders started today, gradually decreasing from 193 on Sunday.

11.08: We spoke briefly to James Victor, the Australian national team manager before the start. His rider Cameron Meyer is two minutes 35 seconds back in third overall. Some felt that’s too far back, but James believes the overall win is still possible. “We’ll be going for it today,” he said, speaking about gaining time back.

Meyer is a class act – he was a WorldTour pro for many years, and has many impressive results.These include World and Commonwealth titles on the track, overall victory in the Tour Down Under, a stage win in the Tour de Suisse and team time trial successes in the Tour de France and Giro d’Italia. He may be two and a half minutes back, but don’t write him off.

11.09: New race leader James Gullen said yesterday that Meyer had been doing more work than he needed to in the move. He seemed a little surprised at that. That extra work seems to hint towards a bigger plan than going for a stage win; Meyer clearly wanted to gain time over those who had missed the move.

11.11: There are attacks being fired off. The roads are very open, next to peat bogs, and any wind will have an effect. That said, it looks relatively calm at the moment.

11.13: There are three riders clear:

Yannis Yssaad (France Armée de Terre)
Christopher McGlinchey (Cycling Ulster)
Philip Lavery (Tipperary Panduit)

They have been joined by three others, namely:

Eoin Morton (Ireland National Team)
William Bjergfelt (Britain Neon Velo Cycling Team)
Cormac McGeough (Cycling Ulster)

11.13: Today’s Irish Times has a great piece written by Killian Doyle, who works for the paper but this week is a mechanic with the Dublin Orwell Scott team. You can read that here [click].

11.18: Donegal rider Ronan McLaughlin (Cork Aqua Blue Sport) has attacked and is chasing the six leaders. He’s psyched to do something in this race, and is on a special Rás inspired custom-made bike. You can read more on that here [click].

11.18: McLaughlin is 16 seconds behind the leaders. The peloton is 32 seconds back.

11.20: The peloton knuckled down to the chase and brought McLaughlin back. The leaders remain out front, 33 seconds clear.

11.23: Race leader James Gullen’s JTL Condor team is chasing behind.

The gap continues to grow, and is 56 seconds ahead at 12.5 kilometres.

11.25: As race radio notes, the best-placed rider in the move is Yssasd, 13 minutes and 14 seconds behind the yellow jersey. So these riders are no threat to Gullen.

They are hunting the stage win, while Lavery is also going for the county rider classification. He was fourth overall in that this morning. McGlinchey was two places ahead of him, and so also stands to gain.

County rider:

1, Daire Feeley (Galway Team iTap) 17 hours 18 mins 8 secs
2, Christopher McGlinchey (Cycling Ulster) at 3 mins 46 secs
3, Darnell Moore (Down Bikehouse) at 3 mins 49 secs
4, Philip Lavery (Tipperary Panduit) at 4 mins 40 secs
5, Ronan McLaughlin (Cork Aqua Blue Sport) at 5 mins 6 secs

11.27: The leaders are one minute clear. The mobile network coverage has been patchy thus far, but will hopefully improve. We’ll keep typing and upload when we can.

11.32: At 15.4 kilometres, the latest gap is one minute 40 seconds. JLT Condor continues to lead.

The riders hit the category three Loughnambraddan 17.5 kilometres after the drop of the flag.

Later on, there is the fearsome category one Glengesh Pass (km. 60.5), the category three Altclogh (km. 72.8), Maeenavaghran (category two, km 80.6) and then the category three pairing of Cashling (km. 89.3) and Kilcar (km. 95).

The day’s final climb is the category three Drumbeagh (km. 124).

There is also an An Post prime at Dunkineely (km. 114.2). Unlike the Hot Spot sprints on day one, there are no time bonuses up for grabs there. There are also no time bonuses at the finish, so anyone hoping to gain time has to do it the hard way.

11.39: The gap has increased to two minutes and ten seconds.

11.43: The peloton has been doing a lot of racing and is in three groups…

The wind is getting stronger, so that’s part of it…

11.45: The gap is one minute 30 seconds between the break and the first part of the bunch. So that acceleration has hewn it back somewhat.

Here is the result from that first climb:

Category three climb of Loughnambraddan (km. 17.5)

1, Eoin Morton (Ireland National Team) 5 pts
2, Christopher McGlinchey (Cycling Ulster) 4
3, Cormac McGeough (Cycling Ulster) 3
4, William Bjergfelt (Britain Neon Velo Cycling Team) 2

11.47: It’s now dropped to one minute and ten seconds.

11.49: The third group on the road is being driven along by Slovenia ROG Ljubljana, who have been caught out.

11.50: The gap between the break and the head of the bunch has continued to fall. It’s now just 51 seconds.

11.52: Now it’s just 38 seconds. It looks like this six-man group is coming back.

11.53: With 30 kilometres covered, the leaders are now just 27 seconds ahead.

11.55: Now just 20 seconds to the yellow jersey group, the first part of the bunch. The third group on the road is at 41 seconds from the leaders.

11.57: Groups two and three have now merged. The leaders remain 20 seconds ahead.

There are approximately 30 riders in this chase group. The rest of the peloton is one minute 40 seconds back. Things have really broken apart.

12.01: After 36 kilometres of racing, the leaders now have 29 seconds on the yellow jersey group.

12.02: The yellow jersey group is moving at 67 kilometres per hour at present, chasing hard. This brings the gap down to 24 seconds.

12.07: The chasing group now consists of 44 riders…

12.09: The break has been caught…so one big lead group of 50 riders.

12.11: The next big group is over two minutes back.

12.15: The mountains jersey, Michael Storer (Australia National Team) punctured earlier and is chasing behind.

12.18: The leaders are now two minutes ahead of the peloton.

12.21: The weather, by the way, is sunny, with blue skies and some small clouds dotted around. Yesterday had plenty of beaches and coastline: today is about craggy mountains and lush fields. It looks stunning.

12.23: The lead group is entering Ardragh.

12.29: Team Wiggins and JLT Condor are setting the pace as the leaders head towards Glengesh, the day’s category one climb. It’s not quite as steep as Mamore Gap, but the hairpins are very tough.

The 49 man lead group is two minutes and 25 seconds ahead. There are many spectators at the top, and indeed on the climb itself.

12.41: Race radio has been very quiet – we’ll get an update soon as to how things stand.

12.42: Przemyslaw Kasperkiewicz (Ireland An Post Chain Reaction) went clear on the climb of Glengesh and took the prime.

Mountains leader Michael Storer (Australia National Team) and Mark Dowling (Cork Strata3 / VeloRevolution) jumped clear in pursuit and went over the top. So, Storer clearly made it back after his puncture earlier.

They have been caught by the yellow jersey group. Kasperkiewicz is 25 seconds ahead of that group, which has reduced in size on the climb by riders being dropped.

12.45: JTL Condor and Team Wiggins have been doing all of the riding. Now JTL Condor drive it on the descent, causing splits. Kasperkiewicz is now 14 seconds ahead.

12.46: Those splits have closed up, although the leader remains out front. He is 12 seconds clear after 66 kilometres of racing.

12.48: We’ve had no mobile network coverage for a while, but will keep writing and update when it’s possible.

12.49: Kasperkiewicz is now just 100 metres ahead of the chasers.

12.57: Kasperkiewicz has been able to hold off the chasers – great ride. He has been joined by Thómas Rostollon (France Armée de Terre). After 72 kilometres of racing they are 39 seconds ahead of the chasers.

13.00: They are now 55 seconds ahead.

13.01: As they enter Glencolumbkille, there are two leaders ahead of the chase group.

13.03: After 77.5 kilometres the leaders are one minute and five seconds ahead of those behind.

13.05: Here are the results of the last two climbs:

Category one climb of Glengesh Pass (km. 60.5)

1, Przemyslaw Kasperkiewicz (Ireland An Post Chain Reaction)
2, Daan Meijers (Netherlands Delta Cycling Rotterdam)
3, Thomas Moses (Britain JLT Condor)
4, Elliott Porter (Britain Neon Velo Cycling Team)
5, James Gullen (Britain JLT Condor)
6, Damien Shaw (Ireland An Post Chain Reaction)
7, Matthew Teggart (Ireland An Post Chain Reaction)

Category three climb of Altclogh (km. 72.8),

1, Przemyslaw Kasperkiewicz (Ireland An Post Chain Reaction) 5 pts
2, Thómas Rostollon (France Armée de Terre) 4
3, Gruffudd Lewis (Britain Madison Genesis) 3
4, Thomas Moses (Britain JLT Condor) 2

We are a little confused by what seems a contradiction in information. It was reported earlier that Michael Storer (Australia National Team) and Mark Dowling (Cork Strata3 / VeloRevolution) had jumped clear going over the top of Glengesh, but they are not listed in the climb results.

13.08: We had no mobile coverage for quite some time but it’s back now.

The weather remains stunning, the terrain remains wide open and exposed to wind.

13.10: Leaving Glencolumbkille, the two leaders have a 21 second advantage over 14 chasers [corrected].

These are those chasers:

Mark Downey (Ireland National Team)
Damien Shaw (Ireland An Post Chain Reaction)
Matthew Teggart (Ireland An Post Chain Reaction)
Cameron Meyer (Australia National Team)
Edward Laverack (Britain JLT Condor)
James Gullen (Britain JLT Condor)
Ian Bibby (Britain JLT Condor)
Michael O’Loughlin (Britain Team Wiggins)
Elliott Porter (Britain Neon Velo Cycling Team)
Troels Ronning Vinther (Denmark Riwal Platform Cycling)
Jonas Aaen Jørgensen (Denmark Riwal Platform Cycling)
Nicolai Nielsen (Denmark Riwal Platform Cycling)
Jerome Mainard (France Armée de Terre)
Ike Groen (Netherlands Delta Cycling Rotterdam)

13.14: The two leaders have now been caught by the yellow jersey group. Sixteen leaders…

13.15: Now Jerome Mainard (France Armée de Terre) is slightly ahead…

Six others have bridged to the leading group. Others are also coming up.

13.17: After 85 kilometres of racing, others have also come up. We will hopefully get an indication of the size of that lead group shortly.

13.19: There are 36 riders in the lead group. Mainard didn’t get far and is back in the fold.

So, despite the climbs, this stage hasn’t really proven that decisive thus far (although the riders further back will disagree!) We mean in terms of the GC. But there’s plenty of racing yet.

13.24: The results of the two most recent climbs:

Category two climb of Maeenavaghran (km 80.6):

1, Przemyslaw Kasperkiewicz (Ireland An Post Chain Reaction)
2, Thómas Rostollon (France Armée de Terre)
3, Cameron Meyer (Australia National Team)
4, Jerome Mainard (France Armée de Terre)
5, Matthew Teggart (Ireland An Post Chain Reaction)
6, Ian Bibby (Britain JLT Condor)

Category three climb of Cashling (km. 89.3):

1, Przemyslaw Kasperkiewicz (Ireland An Post Chain Reaction)
2, Michael Storer (Australia National Team)
3, Thomas Moses (Britain JLT Condor)
4, Jonas Aaen Jørgensen (Denmark Riwal Platform Cycling)

The riders are now heading towards the day’s penultimate climb, that of the category three Kilcar (km. 95).

13.30: The weather has clouded over somewhat, but its still warm.

13.24: The results of that climb:

Category three climb of Kilcar (km. 95):

1, Przemyslaw Kasperkiewicz (Ireland An Post Chain Reaction)
2, Dexter Gardias (Britain Bike Channel Canyon)
3, Gruffudd Lewis (Britain Madison Genesis)
4, Ian Bibby (Britain JLT Condor)

We are ahead of the riders, passing yet another sandy beach. The sun is back out again…!

13.51: 25 kilometres to go for the leading group. At this point in time, the yellow jersey will be very happy with how the stage played out.

13.58: The riders are now inside the final 20 kilometres.

14.00: Sean McKenna (An Post Chainreaction) attacks hard. He is being chased by Dennis Bakker (Netherlands Delta Cycling Rotterdam) heading into post prime in Dunkineely (km. 114.2).

McKenna took the prime. Jonas Aaen Jørgensen (Denmark Riwal Platform Cycling) has now bridged to the other two.

14.03: The three leaders are now 15 seconds clear.

14.04: It’s now 17 seconds… The stage win is on offer, can they do it?

14.07: At kilometre 118.8, the gap is 18 seconds. The riders have just over 13 kilometres left on this stage.

The gap grows to 22 seconds as they head towards this third category climb. It’s really not a difficult one, particularly compared to those yesterday.

14.11: The gap is 20 seconds with ten kilometres to go. This is a big chase group with plenty of fire power, but will they get organised?

14.14: On the descent from the day’s final climb, Thomas Rostollan (Armee de Terre) has a slight lead.

14.20: He was caught with four kilometres to go and Van Schip tries to go clear.

However it’s all back together…heading for a bunch sprint?

14.22: Ike Groen of Delta Cycling) jumps but doesn’t get far…

14.24: It’s a sprint to the line..

Yannis Yssaad wins! He’s quickest into Donegal..

Here’s the first four on the stage:

An Post Ras (2.2)

Stage six, Dungloe to Donegal Town:

1, Yannis Yssaad (France Armée de Terre)
2, Nicolai Nielsen (Denmark Riwal Platform Cycling)
3, Dennis Bakker (Netherlands Delta Cycling Rotterdam)
4, Daan Meijers (Netherlands Delta Cycling Rotterdam)

The French team has been very active all week and so that is a just reward for them.

14.31: So, in the end, a stage that was very hard on paper proved less decisive than the ‘easier’ fifth stage. That’s been the case at times in the past too, making it possible that tomorrow could throw up surprises.

There are no categorised climbs, but race director Tony Campbell believes it could be decisive. “There is nothing major on it, in terms of climbs, but there is going to be a lot of very good roads for racing on. They are very twisting and will definitely favour a break.”

14.34: Stand by for more results…we’ll put them up here when we get them.

Here you go….

An Post Rás (2.2)

Stage 6, Friday May 26: Dungloe to Donegal:

1,Yannis Yssaad (France Armée de Terre) 132.1 kilometres in 3 hours 19 mins 21 secs
2, Nicolai Nielsen (Denmark Riwal Platform Cycling)
3, Dennis Bakker (Netherlands Delta Cycling Rotterdam)
4, Daan Meijers (Netherlands Delta Cycling Rotterdam)
5, Stéphane Poulhies (France Armée de Terre)
6, Cameron Meyer (Australia National Team)
7, Matthew Teggart (Ireland An Post Chain Reaction)
8, Mark Downey (Ireland National Team)
9, Mitchell Mulhern (Netherlands Delta Cycling Rotterdam)
10, Dexter Gardias (Britain Bike Channel Canyon) all same time

Overall classification after stage six:

1, James Gullen (Britain JLT Condor) 20 hours 27 mins 11 secs
2, Ike Groen (Netherlands Delta Cycling Rotterdam) at 1 min 5 secs
3, Cameron Meyer (Australia National Team) at 2 mins 35
4, Troels Ronning Vinther (Denmark Riwal Platform Cycling) at 4 mins 32
5, Damien Shaw (Ireland An Post Chain Reaction) same time
6, Morgan Kneisky (France Armée de Terre) at 5 mins 34 secs
7, Stéphane Poulhies (France Armée de Terre) at 5 mins 49 secs
8, Thómas Rostollon (France Armée de Terre) at 7 mins 10 secs
9, Michael O’Loughlin (Britain Team Wiggins) at 7 mins 13 secs
10, Daan Meijers (Netherlands Delta Cycling Rotterdam) at 8 mins 30 secs

Points:

1, Dennis Bakker (Netherlands Delta Cycling Rotterdam) 49 pts
2, Daan Meijers (Netherlands Delta Cycling Rotterdam) 44
3, Stéphane Poulhies (France Armée de Terre) 41

Mountains:

1, Przemyslaw Kasperkiewicz (Ireland An Post Chain Reaction) 59
2, Michael Storer (Australia National Team) 40 pts
3, Dexter Gardias (Britain Bike Channel Canyon) 27

County rider:

1, Daire Feeley (Galway Team iTap) 20 hours 37 mins 29 secs
2, Philip Lavery (Tipperary Panduit) at 4 mins 40 secs
3, Christopher McGlinchey (Cycling Ulster) at 4 mins 48 secs

Young rider:

1, Michael O’Loughlin (Britain Team Wiggins) 20 hours 34 mins 24 sec
2, Regan Gough (Ireland An Post Chain Reaction) at 1 min 48 secs
3, Matthew Teggart (Ireland An Post Chain Reaction) at 2 mins 3 secs

There was actually no change at all to the top ten. So the challengers to James Gullen’s yellow jersey are running out of time…

We’ll leave it there for now – interviews to be done, reports to be written. Come back tomorrow for the penultimate stage of the race, should be a good one…

Thanks for reading!

*****

An Post Ras 2017 stage 5

*****

Stage 5, Thursday May 25: Buncrana to Dungloe (181.2 kilometres):

This stage is significantly flatter than the previous one, with just two category three ascents lying in wait. However at 181.2 kilometres this is the longest stage of this year’s An Post Rás and tiring legs may find the distance to be a big consideration.

As was the case on stage four, Burnfoot and Burt feature on the route, after which the peloton will tackle a fast descent at Ramelton, pass through Rathmullen and then begin the category three climb of Anny Far and Near/Carnagarrow (km. 69.7).

Just over five kilometres later they will scrap it out to the top of the category three Ballymastocker (km. 75), then race on to the Donegal Gaeltacht locations of An Bhualtaigh, Tulaigh na Dala, Leat Beg and Carraig Airt. From there the race heads to Portnablagh and then the An Post primes in Dunfanagy (km. 124) and Falcarragh (km. 136).

After the latter less than 50 kilometres remain on the stage, with the route taking the riders through locations such as Gweedore, Anagaire and Mullahduff before the finish line in Dungloe.

—-

11.00: Good morning and welcome to the live coverage for today’s stage, starting in a very sunny Buncrana. It’s a beautiful day – bright, blue skies and warm temperatures.

11.05: The riders are rolling out of the town and awaiting the official start. Some riders are trying to sort out mechanicals and a little extra time has been given. But they need to move quickly.

11.07: This is race director Tony Campbell’s assessment of what is in wait:

“The day to Dungloe has just two categorised climbs but it is the longest stage. There is a lot of undulating roads along the way. That up and down terrain plus the distance will make it very hard, but also where it comes in the race.

“The riders will have done three days of good speed to begin with, then that tough climbing stage to Buncrana. I reckon that will be a fantastic stage.”

The race is now on – we expect plenty of attacks early on.

11.08: On the way out of the town, the riders pass a stunning beach to their right. It’s postcard stuff.

186 riders took the start. Despite yesterday’s gruelling stage, it seems like there are no overnight withdrawals. That’s great.

11.09: Today’s stage is significantly flatter than yesterday’s. Wind and speed will likely play a big part in how things play out.

11.11: The GC is incredibly tight – have a look.

Overall classification after four stages:

1, Matthew Teggart (Ireland An Post Chain Reaction) 12 hours 56 mins 24 secs
2, Troels Ronning Vinther (Denmark Riwal Platform Cycling)
3, Ike Groen (Netherlands Delta Cycling Rotterdam)
4, Jonas Aaen Jørgensen (Denmark Riwal Platform Cycling)
5, Damien Shaw (Ireland An Post Chain Reaction)
6, James Gullen (Britain JLT Condor) all same time
7, Ziga Rucigaj (Slovenia ROG Ljubljana) at 19 secs
8, Morgan Kneisky (France Armée de Terre) at 1 min 2 secs
9, Daire Feeley (Galway Team iTap)
10, Elliott Porter (Britain Neon Velo Cycling Team) both same time
11, Michael Storer (Australia National Team) at 1 min 15 secs
12, Stéphane Poulhies (France Armée de Terre) at 1 min 17 secs
13, Darragh O’Mahony (Ireland National Team)
14, Sean McKenna (Ireland An Post Chain Reaction) both same time
15, Tilen Finkst (Slovenia ROG Ljubljana) at 2 mins 19 secs

11.12: The top six riders are all level on time, and separated by accumulated stage placings. Race radio has just given the exact totals:

Teggart has a total of 55 placings. He was 23rd on stage one, 27th on stage two, then first and fourth.

Ronning Vinther has 83, Groen has 96, Aaen Jørgensen has 101, Shaw has 154 and Gullen has 260.

So, if they all finish together today, Ronning Vinther has to beat him by 28 places to draw level.

11.12: Four riders have clipped away. They are:

Eoin Morton (Ireland National Team)
Ian Bibby (Britain JLT Condor)
Ziga Jerman (Slovenia ROG Ljubljana)
Anthony Walsh (Cork Aqua Blue Sport)

It will be interesting to see if the bunch will take a tight control early on or if it will give a group some room to manoeuvre. The length of the stage may mean things are not quite so tightly controlled early on.

11.20: at 9.4 kilometres, the peloton is back together. All one group.

11.21: Now three riders go clear:

Angus Fyffe (Ireland National Team), Seán Lacey (Cork Aqua Blue Sport) and Jason Prendergast (Galway Team iTap).

They have been joined by Jonas Aaen Jørgensen(Denmark Riwal Platform Cycling), Daan Meijers(Netherlands Delta Cycling Rotterdam) and Ian Richardson(Dublin UCD Fitz Cycles)

And then by Przemyslaw Kasperkiewicz (Ireland An Post Chain Reaction), Jerome Mainard (France Armée de Terre) and Matic Groselj (Slovenia ROG Ljubljana).

11.23: However the peloton isn’t happy about this and brings them back.

11.24: Now Thómas Rostollon (France Armée de Terre) attacks and is joined by Eoin Morton (Ireland National Team) and Mitchell Mulhern (Netherlands Delta Cycling Rotterdam).

11.25: All together again, but stretched out in one long line in the right gutter.

11.26: Thómas Rostollon (France Armée de Terre) pushes on alone again.

11.28: He’s been caught once again. Nothing is getting much room at all today. At least, not yet.

11.36: Marc Potts (Britain Neon Velo Cycling) is now slightly clear.

Matic Groselj (Slovenia ROG Ljubljana) and Jake Gray (Ireland National Team) are leading the peloton. Poots has been caught.

11.40: Jeremy Durrin (Britain Neon Velo Cycling Team) and Robin Kelly (Waterford Racing) are slightly clear.

And now, at 24.7 kilometres, it’s all back together again.

11.49: Jan Willem Van Schip (Netherlands Delta Cycling Rotterdam) and Mitchell Mulhern (Netherlands Delta Cycling Rotterdam) are drilling the pace and causing splits in the peloton. The yellow jersey is in the front part of the bunch.

The mountains jersey is caught out, being in the third group on the road. He’s trying to bridge.

The first and second groups on the road have merged, so he’s slightly behind and chasing.

This was the mountains classification this morning:

1, Michael Storer (Australia National Team) 26 points
2, Gruffudd Lewis (Britain Madison Genesis) 20
3, Jacob Sitler (USA CCB Velotooler) 20
4, Jacob Sitler (USA CCB Velotooler) 19
5, Dexter Gardias (Britain Bike Channel Canyon) 16

That group has got back up to the peloton, so panic over.

Storer did a superb ride yesterday, taking that stage win with a strong ride over the mountains leading to Buncrana. He’s one of Australia’s most promising young riders. You can read more about him here.

11.56: The peloton is moving at 66 kilometres per hour at the moment. There’s a tailwind giving some assistance, but the speed is certainly on too.

12.00: Thómas Rostollon (France Armée de Terre) has attacked again.

12.08: Now Michael O’Loughlin (Britain Team Wiggins) gets across.

Mark Dowling(Cork Strata3 / VeloRevolution) is chasing hard.

The bunch is at 22 seconds.

12.09: The two leaders are 12 seconds clear of Dowling.

12.11: They are still 12 seconds ahead of Dowling. The peloton is now 40 seconds back.

12.12: Dowling’s teammate Simon Ryan (Cork Strata3 / VeloRevolution) jumps across to him to help in the chase.

12.14: The peloton is a minute back.

Now the two leaders are 35 seconds ahead of Dowling and Ryan. The peloton is still a minute back.

12.18: Latest time gap: 32 seconds between the two leaders and two chasers. The bunch is 48 seconds behind the first riders. This is the most serious looking move thus far today.

We are a couple of kilometres ahead of the leaders and passing another stunning beach – fantastic weather here in Donegal. The riders will welcome that.

12.20: Those two chasers have been caught. So now just two leaders out front. They have 42 seconds at this point in time.

12.24: The gap is 30 seconds.

12.28: It drops to 20 seconds.

12.32: Now four riders jump across. They are Eoin Morton (Ireland National Team), stage one winner Nicolai Brochner Nielsen (Denmark Riwal Platform Cycling), stage two winner Jan Willem Van Schip (Netherlands Delta Cycling Rotterdam) and Louis Carnec (Dublin UCD Fitz Cycles).

The six leaders are heading towards the first climb of the day, the category three climb of Anny Far and Near/Carnagarrow (km. 69.7).

12.35: The peloton is gradually drawing closer, and is just 100 metres back.

12.44: The riders have scaled the day’s first climb, and the results are in.

Category three climb of Anny Far and Near/Carnagarrow (km. 69.7).

1, Michael Storer (Australia National Team) 5 pts
2, Dexter Gardias (Britain Bike Channel Canyon) 4
3, Jacob Sitler (USA CCB Velotooler) 3
4, Cameron Meyer (Australia National Team) 2

12.46: At 73.4 kilometres, things are all together.

The riders now head toward the day’s second and final climb.

12.48: Here are the results for that.

Category three Ballymastocker (km. 75):

1, Michael Storer (Australia National Team) 5 pt
2, Dexter Gardias (Britain Bike Channel Canyon) 4
3, Jacob Sitler (USA CCB Velotooler) 3
4, Elliott Porter (Britain Neon Velo Cycling Team) 2

And so Storer extends his lead in the KOM classification.

12.58: Three riders are going clear – former WorldTour pro Cameron Meyer (Australia National Team), Edward Laverack (Britain JLT Condor) and Jerome Mainard (France Armée de Terre).

They have been joined by Regan Gough (Ireland An Post Chain Reaction)

13.04:Meyer, Laverack and Gough remain out front and have been joined by James Gullen (Britain JLT Condor), Ike Groen (Netherlands Delta Cycling Rotterdam) and Daan Meijers (Netherlands Delta Cycling Rotterdam).

Six leaders, so Mainard must have gone back to the next group.

These are 16 seconds ahead of large group containing the yellow and green jerseys.

Speaking of the green jersey, this is the points classification starting today:

1, Dennis Bakker (Netherlands Delta Cycling Rotterdam) 36 points
2, Matthew Teggart (Ireland An Post Chain Reaction) 27
3, Christopher Latham (Britain Team Wiggins) 25
4, Stéphane Poulhies (France Armée de Terre) 24
5, Jan Willem Van Schip (Netherlands Delta Cycling Rotterdam) 23

Bakker led the race up until yesterday. He was caught out on the climbs, but has the consolation of the green jersey.

13.14: The leaders are now 39 seconds ahead of eight chasers. The yellow and green jerseys are in a group one minute and ten seconds back.

13.15: These are the eight chasers:

Mark Downey (Ireland National Team)
Damien Shaw (Ireland An Post Chain Reaction)
Robert-Jon McCarthy (Britain JLT Condor)
Michael O’Loughlin (Britain Team Wiggins)
Troels Ronning Vinther (Denmark Riwal Platform Cycling)
Morgan Kneisky (France Armée de Terre)
Thómas Rostollon (France Armée de Terre)
Stéphane Poulhies (France Armée de Terre)

There are three chasers in the next group:

Sean McKenna (Ireland An Post Chain Reaction)
Dexter Gardias (Britain Bike Channel Canyon)
Seán Lacey (Cork Aqua Blue Sport)

The yellow jersey group is at two minutes and 10 seconds.

13.21: The eight chasers are at 45 seconds.

So, interestingly, although those two climbs were just category three, they have helped break things right up.

13.25: That three-man chase group is now at two minutes.

13.29: The gap between the first two groups on the road is up to one minute and ten seconds.

13.33: At kilometre 104.1, the peloton at 3 minutes 25 seconds. Sounds like those three chasers were caught.

13.44: The peloton is one minute 10 seconds ahead of the chasers.

13.59: The gaps keep growing – at kilometre 122, the leaders are one minute 50 ahead of eight chasers.

The peloton is at six minutes! That’s surely game over for the yellow jersey, in terms of holding his lead.

14.12: At kilometre 131, the chasers are at two minutes 15 seconds. The yellow jersey group has reduced the gap somewhat – it’s at four minutes 40 seconds.

We were behind the break for several minutes – they are working really well together. Cameron Meyer is the most experienced of the riders here – a class act. He took two gold medals in the track world championships this year.

14.15: The leaders are inside the final 50 kilometres of the stage – heading for 40 kilometres to go. Although it was flatter than yesterday, this stage ended up being really decisive.

I chatted to Cameron Meyer last night. He said that he and the team were marked out of it on the first couple of days, but that they were looking forward to the wind direction changing today. He’s certainly made the most of that.

Let’s give a reminder as to how things stand:

Cameron Meyer (Australia National Team)
Edward Laverack (Britain JLT Condor)
Regan Gough (Ireland An Post Chain Reaction)
James Gullen (Britain JLT Condor)
Ike Groen (Netherlands Delta Cycling Rotterdam)
Daan Meijers (Netherlands Delta Cycling Rotterdam).

Are the leaders.

The chasers are:

Mark Downey (Ireland National Team)
Damien Shaw (Ireland An Post Chain Reaction)
Robert-Jon McCarthy (Britain JLT Condor)
Michael O’Loughlin (Britain Team Wiggins)
Troels Ronning Vinther (Denmark Riwal Platform Cycling)
Morgan Kneisky (France Armée de Terre)
Thómas Rostollon (France Armée de Terre)
Stéphane Poulhies (France Armée de Terre)

And this was the top 15 this morning:

1, Matthew Teggart (Ireland An Post Chain Reaction) 12 hours 56 mins 24 secs
2, Troels Ronning Vinther (Denmark Riwal Platform Cycling)
3, Ike Groen (Netherlands Delta Cycling Rotterdam)
4, Jonas Aaen Jørgensen (Denmark Riwal Platform Cycling)
5, Damien Shaw (Ireland An Post Chain Reaction)
6, James Gullen (Britain JLT Condor) all same time
7, Ziga Rucigaj (Slovenia ROG Ljubljana) at 19 secs
8, Morgan Kneisky (France Armée de Terre) at 1 min 2 secs
9, Daire Feeley (Galway Team iTap)
10, Elliott Porter (Britain Neon Velo Cycling Team) both same time
11, Michael Storer (Australia National Team) at 1 min 15 secs
12, Stéphane Poulhies (France Armée de Terre) at 1 min 17 secs
13, Darragh O’Mahony (Ireland National Team)
14, Sean McKenna (Ireland An Post Chain Reaction) both same time
15, Tilen Finkst (Slovenia ROG Ljubljana) at 2 mins 19 secs

Groen is the big dangerman – he started the day level on time with Teggart. He’s now the yellow jersey on the road.

14.20: The six leaders are two minutes 45 ahead of the eight chasers. The peloton is at four minutes 20.

By the way, Daan Meijers took the An Post sprint prime at Falcarragh. Unlike the first day, there are no time bonuses up for grabs.

14.22: Let’s sort the leaders by their GC placings this morning – that will give a clearer picture. Bear with us…

14.30: So, here is where the riders in the break were this morning. As you can see, there were two riders level with the race leader this morning.

Ike Groen (Netherlands Delta Cycling Rotterdam) – 3rd at 0 seconds
James Gullen (Britain JLT Condor) – 6th at 0 secs
Cameron Meyer (Australia National Team) – 21st at 2 mins 41 secs
Daan Meijers (Netherlands Delta Cycling Rotterdam) – 44th at 8 mins 35 secs
Regan Gough (Ireland An Post Chain Reaction) – 46th at 9 mins 7 secs
Edward Laverack (Britain JLT Condor) – 74th at 13 mins 31 secs

As mentioned earlier, those in the top six were separated by stage placings. Groen had an accumulated total of 96 placings compared to Gullen’s 260 (lower is better).

In other words, if they all finished together Gullen would need to gain time over Groen, even one second, to take the lead.

14.32: The six leaders are now three minutes and ten seconds ahead of the eight chasers. As for the bunch, it’s now five minutes and 20 seconds back.

Unless something very peculiar happens, the new race leader will come from this first group. That could possibly end up being the overall race winner.

Meyer’s class means he has to be considered a big contender for the stage win. He’ll want to clip away before the end rather than wait for a sprint.

He can’t be ruled out of the final yellow jersey – really a very good rider.

His past achievements include World and Commonwealth titles on the track, overall victory in the Tour Down Under, a stage win in the Tour de Suisse and team time trial successes in the Tour de France and Giro d’Italia. That dwarfs anything other riders in the race have done.

He actually walked away from the sport last year, having lost motivation. However after a couple of months off he got his interest back and decided to focus on track racing. That’s still the goal, but road is also an interest again.

14.44: The leaders now have just 25km to go. The last time check put them three minutes and 35 seconds ahead of the next riders. The stage and the yellow jersey will go to one of those out front.

14.46: The peloton is at seven minutes 20 seconds! This has been a classic Rás day of upheavals and huge time gaps.

14.50: The leaders keep pulling clear. They have four minutes now. They are really working well together.

14.55: Now four minutes and five seconds.

15.00: Elliott Porter (Britain Neon Velo Cycling Team) has been ahead of the peloton, chasing for quite some time. There is a five man chase group behind him, but they are a long way behind the first group on the road.

15.01: We are ahead of the break – this finale is very rolling. Perfect for one or more riders to push ahead and go for the stage win. Just waiting for the attacks…

15.03: And, with that, those attacks have started.

The chasers are at 3 minutes 45 seconds.

15.07: The leaders are inside the last ten kilometres. They are together at this point in time.

15.09: The chasers have passed ten kilometres to go. They are four minutes back, which should put the leaders inside the final seven kilometres.

The roads to the finish are twisting and turning, and exposed to wind. Perfect for attacks to go.

15.11: Reminder – these are the leaders. The stage winner and new yellow jersey will come out of this group.

Cameron Meyer (Australia National Team)
Edward Laverack (Britain JLT Condor)
Regan Gough (Ireland An Post Chain Reaction)
James Gullen (Britain JLT Condor)
Ike Groen (Netherlands Delta Cycling Rotterdam)
Daan Meijers (Netherlands Delta Cycling Rotterdam).

Laverack and Gullen plus Groen and Meijers have the numerical advantage over the two riders without teammates. Will that determine the stage victor? We will see soon…

15.13: There’s a gradual uphill drag to the line. Laverack has attacked, and has four kilometres to go. No time gaps to the others, will hopefully get that soon…

15.14: It’s back together now at the front…five leaders, Groen has been dropped.That could mean Gullen will be the new race leader.

Reminder – this was the GC for those leaders this morning.

Ike Groen (Netherlands Delta Cycling Rotterdam) – 3rd at 0 seconds
James Gullen (Britain JLT Condor) – 6th at 0 secs
Cameron Meyer (Australia National Team) – 21st at 2 mins 41 secs
Daan Meijers (Netherlands Delta Cycling Rotterdam) – 44th at 8 mins 35 secs
Regan Gough (Ireland An Post Chain Reaction) – 46th at 9 mins 7 secs
Edward Laverack (Britain JLT Condor) – 74th at 13 mins 31 secs

15.16: Two kilometres to go…

15.18: Laverack has been dropped…

They are sprinting for the line…

15.19: Gough takes it! The Kiwi wins ahead of Meyer and Meijers. Gough is fourth and is the new race leader…

That’s the best scenery I can remember on a Ras stage. The sun helped, but the beaches and countryside were stunning.

15.22: The chase group is at one kilometre to go. Big time gaps today…

Chase group now sprinting for the line…

Those chasers finished four minutes 38 seconds back. Gullen now leads overall by one minute and five seconds, with Meyer at two minutes 35. Bear with us – top ten on stage and GC coming…

15.49: Here we go – the results for the stage:

An Post Rás (2.2)

Stage 5, Thursday May 25: Buncrana to Dungloe:

1, Regan Gough (Ireland An Post Chain Reaction) 181.2 kilometres in 4 hours 11 mins 20 secs
2, Cameron Meyer (Australia National Team) same time
3, Daan Meijers (Netherlands Delta Cycling Rotterdam) at 1 sec
4, James Gullen (Britain JLT Condor) at 6 secs
5, Edward Laverack (Britain JLT Condor) at 1 min 6 secs
6, Ike Groen (Netherlands Delta Cycling Rotterdam) at 1 min 11 secs
7, Robert-Jon McCarthy (Britain JLT Condor) at 4 mins 38 secs
8, Troels Ronning Vinther (Denmark Riwal Platform Cycling)
9, Morgan Kneisky (France Armée de Terre)
10, Stéphane Poulhies (France Armée de Terre)
11, Mark Downey (Ireland National Team)
12, Damien Shaw (Ireland An Post Chain Reaction)
13, Michael O’Loughlin (Britain Team Wiggins) all same time
14, Thómas Rostollon (France Armée de Terre) at 4 mins 51 secs
15, Sasha Weemaes (Belgian National Team) at 9 mins 22 secs

Category three climb of Anny Far (km. 69.7):

1, Michael Storer (Australia National Team) 5 pts
2, Jacob Sitler (USA CCB Velotooler) 4
3, Dexter Gardias (Britain Bike Channel Canyon) 4
4, Cameron Meyer (Australia National Team) 2

Category three Ballymastocker strand (km. 75):

1, Michael Storer (Australia National Team) 5 pts
2, Dexter Gardias (Britain Bike Channel Canyon) 4
3, Jacob Sitler (USA CCB Velotooler) 3
4, Elliott Porter (Britain Neon Velo Cycling Team) 2

Post office prime at Dunfanagy: 1, Ed Laverack (Britain JLT Condor)
Post office prime at Falcarragh: 1, Daan Meijers (Netherlands Delta Cycling Rotterdam)

City North county rider:

1, Matteo Cigala (Cork Aqua Blue Sport) 4 hours 20 mins 42 secs
2, Fintan Ryan (Westmeath Team Planet X Carnac)
3, Richard Maes (Kerry Killarney)
4, Christopher McGlinchey (Cycling Ulster)
5, Dermot Trulock (Donegal Voodoo Performance)

Team stage:

1, Britain JLT Condor, 12 hours 39 mins 50 secs
2, Netherlands Delta Cycling Rotterdam, 12 hours 44 mins 34 secs
3, Ireland An Post Chain Reaction, 12 hours 40 mins
4, France Armée de Terre, 12 hours 48 min 7 secs
5, Australia National Team, 12 hours 52 mins 44 secs

Irish county team:

1, Down Bikehouse, 13 hours 2 mins 6 secs
2, Cycling Ulster
3, Cork Aqua Blue Sport
4, Tyrone Omagh
5, Cork Strata 3/VeloRevolution, all same time

Overall classification after five stages:

1, James Gullen (Britain JLT Condor) 17 hours 7 mins 50 secs
2, Ike Groen (Netherlands Delta Cycling Rotterdam) at 1 min 5 secs
3, Cameron Meyer (Australia National Team) at 2 mins 35
4, Troels Ronning Vinther (Denmark Riwal Platform Cycling) at 4 mins 32
5, Damien Shaw (Ireland An Post Chain Reaction) same time
6, Morgan Kneisky (France Armée de Terre) at 5 mins 34 secs
7, Stéphane Poulhies (France Armée de Terre) at 5 mins 49 secs
8, Thómas Rostollon (France Armée de Terre) at 7 mins 10 secs
9, Michael O’Loughlin (Britain Team Wiggins) at 7 mins 13 secs
10, Daan Meijers (Netherlands Delta Cycling Rotterdam) at 8 mins 30 secs
11, Regan Gough (Ireland An Post Chain Reaction) at 9 mins 1 sec
12, Matthew Teggart (Ireland An Post Chain Reaction) at 9 mins 16 secs
13, Jonas Aaen Jørgensen (Denmark Riwal Platform Cycling) same time
14, Mark Downey (Ireland National Team) at 9 mins 23 secs
15, Ziga Rucigaj (Slovenia ROG Ljubljana) at 9 mins 35 secs

Points:

1, Dennis Bakker (Netherlands Delta Cycling Rotterdam) 36 pts
2, Daan Meijers (Netherlands Delta Cycling Rotterdam) 32
3, Stéphane Poulhies (France Armée de Terre) 30
4, Matthew Teggart (Ireland An Post Chain Reaction) 27
5, Robert-Jon McCarthy (Britain JLT Condor) 26

Mountains:

1, Michael Storer (Australia National Team) 36 pts
2, Jacob Sitler (USA CCB Velotooler) 27
3, Dexter Gardias (Britain Bike Channel Canyon) 23
4, Gruffudd Lewis (Britain Madison Genesis) 20
5, Przemyslaw Kasperkiewicz (Ireland An Post Chain Reaction) 19

Under 23 rider:

1, Michael O’Loughlin (Britain Team Wiggins) 17 hours 15 mins 3 secs
2, Regan Gough (Ireland An Post Chain Reaction) at 1 min 48 secs
3, Matthew Teggart (Ireland An Post Chain Reaction) at 2 mins 3 secs
4, Mark Downey (Ireland National Team) at 2 mins 10 secs
5, Ziga Rucigaj (Slovenia ROG Ljubljana) at 2 mins 22 secs

County rider:

1, Daire Feeley (Galway Team iTap) 17 hours 18 mins 8 secs
2, Christopher McGlinchey (Cycling Ulster) at 3 mins 46 secs
3, Darnell Moore (Down Bikehouse) at 3 mins 49 secs
4, Philip Lavery (Tipperary Panduit) at 4 mins 40 secs
5, Ronan McLaughlin (Cork Aqua Blue Sport) at 5 mins 6 secs

Cycling Ireland Category 2 rider:

1, Ronan Costelloe (Limerick Newcastle West / Rockwell) 17 hours 35 mins 33 secs
2, Stuart Henry (Antrim Phoenix) at 13 mins 45 secs
3, Brian McArdle (Dublin Orwell Scott) at 22 mins 11 secs
4, Ben Cady (Leitrim Velo Cafe Magasin) at 23 mins 4 secs
5, Rónán O’Shea (Waterford Racing) at 42 mins 27 secs

Team (non-county):

1, Netherlands Delta Cycling Rotterdam, 51 hours 35 mins 47 secs
2, Ireland An Post Chain Reaction, at 1 min 15 secs
3, France Armée de Terre, at 4 mins 59 secs
4, Australia National Team, at 4 mins 59 secs
5, Britain JTL Condor, at 15 mins 57 secs

Irish county team:

1, Cork Aqua Blue Sport, 52 hours 12 mins 31 secs
2, Cork Strata3/Velorevolution, at 2 mins 42 secs
3, Down Bikehouse, at 4 mins 44 secs
4, Dublin UCD FitzCycles, at 13 mins 27 secs
5, Cycling Ulster, at 16 mins 44 secs

As you can see, what seemed on paper to be a less difficult stage than yesterday and tomorrow proved to be very decisive. The GC has been completely reshuffled this evening. Will there be further big changes tomorrow?

Come back tomorrow morning to find out – we’ll be doing more live coverage and tracking the riders as they head back into the big mountains. Thanks for reading, more then!

*****

An Post Ras 2017 stage 4

*****

Stage 4, Wednesday May 24: Bundoran to Buncrana (151.8 kilometres):

This fourth day of the race is another in Donegal. The race has had a mainly flat profile up until this point but that will change dramatically en route to Buncrana, with five categorised climbs lurking along the route.

The racing begins in Bundoran and heads through Ballyshannon, Laghey, Donegal town, Ballybofey, Stranorlar and Letterkenny prior to the start of the day’s first climb, the 2.8 kilometre category three Maghera Beg (km. 79.7).

After Burt, Burnfoot and Buncrana this is followed by the second ascent, the category three Slavery Hill (km. 112.8). This is immediately followed by the category two Old Mountain (km. 119.5) and then, right away, by the similarly-ranked Pinch Mountain (km. 122.7).

That trio of close peaks will likely break things up. Any regrouping will be jarred by the final climb, the fearsome Mamore Gap (km. 137.4), with the category one slopes likely to cause even more havoc.

From there just 14.4 kilometres remain until the finish, making it likely that the up and down roads will play a major effect on the shape of the race.

—–

11.00: Good morning and welcome to the start of stage four of the race. This will be a big day in determining the final overall classification, with plenty of climbing in store.

This is what the race director Tony Campbell expects:

“This stage to Buncrana should be a great one. Mamore Gap is one of the hardest climbs in the country, but it’s also very hard before you even get there. There is a lot of climbing on the way there, and it is pretty hard to come back from it also. There will be a chase all the way back into the finish.

“This time, we will be doing a loop around Buncrana. It is a different sort of approach than before. They put ramps in the middle of the road on the previous finish, so we are using a new run in. There is a steep hill up to the line in Buncrana and it will make for a fantastic finish.”

11.03: There were 185 riders at the start. One was missing – Nathan Draper of Team Wiggins. The riders are in the neutralised zone and the flag is about to drop.

11.07: The first attack of the day has come from Marc Potts (Britain Neon Velo Cycling Team).

He has been joined by three others – Jan Willem Van Schip (Netherlands Delta Cycling Rotterdam), Ziga Jerman (Slovenia ROG Ljubljana) and Conn McDunphy (Donegal Voodoo Performance).

11.09: At 4.4 kilometres, it’s all back together once again.

11.11: Still intact leaving Ballyshannon.

11.13: There are three riders clear.

11.14: They now have a nine second advantage over the chasers. Meanwhile, at the opposite end of the bunch, riders are being shelled. That’s going to be a long day for them…hopefully a group gets established to help them to the finish.

Okay, these are the three leaders: Dexter Gardias (Britain Bike Channel Canyon), Michael Cuming (Britain Neon Velo Cycling Team) and Daan Meijers (Netherlands Delta Cycling Rotterdam).

11.18: They are still out front, and have 18 seconds.

It’s overcast today, but relatively bright. At the weekend there were predictions that there would be a heatwave during the week, but unfortunately that hasn’t panned out. It’s about 17 degrees. Fortunately, it’s dry.

Sun is forecast for tomorrow. That said, predictions about the weather in Ireland are often a bit hit and miss – it really does change a lot here. So let’s see.

The last time the race was in Donegal, five years ago, it was incredible weather.

11.24: Other riders are trying to get clear of the peloton and bridge to the leaders. Let’s see what develops.

Okay, the split has been closed down, and the leaders’ lead has been cut to ten seconds. This could come back together.

11.25: There is plenty of climbing today, but nothing official for quite some time. The day’s first climb, the 2.8 kilometre category three Maghera Beg, is at kilometre 79.7.

11.30: At 21.5 kilometres, the peloton has caught the leaders. It’s all together.

Things are more measured thus far today: Yesterday saw a flurry of attacks. It’s likely a combination of fatigue and also apprehension about the tough kilometres in store today.

That said, for those courageous enough to go for it at this point, there is a chance of building a decent gap. If riders are playing things conservatively, early aggressors could profit.

11.38: The group is still together leaving Donegal town, at kilometre 27.6.

11.42: Still together at 30.7 kilometres.

11.45: Three riders briefly got clear but were recaptured.

Now Fintan Ryan (Westmeath Team Planet X Carnac) is attacking.

Other attacks are going off.

11.48: Ryan was caught and now Przemyslaw Kasperkiewicz (Ireland An Post Chain Reaction) has gone clear. There is a chase on now.

11.54: He was caught. There have been many attacks, but nothing is sticking. It’s all together at present.

12.02: Paul Kennedy (Limerick Newcastle West / Rockwell) is now clear.

And now, at 47 kilometres, it’s all together again.

Thus far today has seen quite a few attacks, but nothing getting a decent gap. And here’s why – the average speed in the first hour of racing was 48.3 km/h.

12.08: Now Marcus Flavin (Down Newry) and Paul Kennedy (Limerick Newcastle West / Rockwell) are clear.

12.15: Przemyslaw Kasperkiewicz (Ireland An Post Chain Reaction) goes again and opens a gap.

12.19: At 51 kilometres, he is still clear with a chasing group going after him. He’s 15 seconds ahead.

12.20: Six riders got up to the leader. Another is about to join.

The bunch is 100 metres behind the leaders. This could come back together again. If not, we’ll have names.

12.24: There are seven leaders:

Przemyslaw Kasperkiewicz (Ireland An Post Chain Reaction)
Gruffudd Lewis (Britain Madison Genesis)
Dexter Gardias (Britain Bike Channel Canyon)
Joey Walker (Britain Team Wiggins)
Yannis Yssaad (France Armée de Terre)
Jan Willem Van Schip (Netherlands Delta Cycling Rotterdam)
Marcus Flavin (Down Newry)

They are being chased by three others – Thómas Rostollon(France Armée de Terre), Ike Groen(Netherlands Delta Cycling Rotterdam) and a third rider – the race radio is breaking up a lot, so we are not 100 percent certain of his identity. We think it is Jonas Aaen Jørgensen (Denmark Riwal Platform Cycling).

We’ll hopefully get clarification soon.

12.27: The peloton is breaking up, so the speed is on.

12.28: The time gap is 26 seconds between the leaders and the peloton. No mention of that chase group in the time gap, so it may have been caught.

12.30: Yes, that chase group has been caught. There is now one rider alone in pursuit – Tilen Finkst (Slovenia ROG Ljubljana). He is 30 seconds back, with the peloton a further ten seconds behind.

12.33: Finkst has been caught. The leaders are 55 seconds clear at 72.8 kilometres.

They are getting close to the day’s first climb, the 2.8 kilometre category three Maghera Beg (km. 79.7).

The next climbs will be the category three Slavery Hill (km. 112.8), the category two Old Mountain (km. 119.5) and then, right away, the similarly-ranked Pinch Mountain (km. 122.7).

That trio of close peaks will likely break things up. Any regrouping will be jarred by the final climb, the fearsome Mamore Gap (km. 137.4), with the category one slopes likely to cause even more havoc.

12.35: Those clear at the top of the climb will have a decent chance of fighting for the stage win. There is just 14.4 kilometres from the summit until the finish line.

The Netherlands Delta Cycling Rotterdam team of race leader Dennis Bakker is doing much of the chasing.

12.37: Despite that chasing, the gap is up to one minute 15 seconds. Bakker’s team may be allowing this gap to go out gradually, trying to deter more attacks. It will then aim to reel it back in later.

12.43: The peloton is now one minute 55 back. The break is being aided by a tailwind.

12.46: Here’s the result of the first climb:

Category three climb of Maghera Beg (km. 79.7).

1, Gruffudd Lewis (Britain Madison Genesis) 5 pts
2, Dexter Gardias (Britain Bike Channel Canyon) 4
3, Joey Walker (Britain Team Wiggins) 3
4, Jan Willem Van Schip (Netherlands Delta Cycling Rotterdam) 2

12.49: With 83.7 kilometres covered, the leaders are two minutes and 8 seconds ahead.

12.53: It’s increased to two minutes and 15 seconds. So, they are still building a buffer before the big mountains ahead.

12.57: Another slight increase: two minutes and 18 seconds.

13.01: And now two minutes 24 seconds. They are doing a good job of building a lead.

13.04: We’ve had a lack of mobile broadband coverage, but will keep typing in the meantime and will update when we can reconnect.

13.06: At 97 kilometres, the gap is now up to two minutes 30 seconds. It keeps inching upwards.

The sun is coming out at times. It’s still cloudy but there are some small gaps and that’s letting the light through.

The roads are flat for now but that’s the calm before the storm. It’s going to get a lot tougher soon.

These will be the first real climbs of this year’s race, and will give a much clearer picture of who will be this year’s challengers for the final overall victory.

13.08: For the first time, the gap has started to drop. It’s now two minutes 20 seconds. Has the pendulum swung, or is this just a temporary glitch? We’ll see soon…

13.10: The first two hours have been run off at a 47.7 km/h average. That’s brisk.

13.15: At kilometre 104.6, confirmation that the gap is continuing to fall. The break is now two minutes and ten seconds ahead. Many big teams have missed the move and have an incentive to chase.

A reminder – the riders out front are Przemyslaw Kasperkiewicz (Ireland An Post Chain Reaction), Gruffudd Lewis (Britain Madison Genesis), Dexter Gardias (Britain Bike Channel Canyon), Joey Walker (Britain Team Wiggins), Yannis Yssaad (France Armée de Terre), Jan Willem Van Schip (Netherlands Delta Cycling Rotterdam) and Marcus Flavin (Down Newry).

13.22: The leaders are now on the second climb of the day, Slavery Hill. The summit is at km. 112.8. It’s only a category three ascent, but is followed by the category two Old Mountain (km. 119.5) and the category two Pinch Mountain.

13.26: At the top of the climb, the break is now just one minute 37 ahead. That’s a big drop. It looks like this move will either be hauled back or, possibly, joined by others in the near future.

13.29: Now just one minute and five seconds.

The roads heading towards Old Mountain are much tougher (as expected).

Australia are leading the peloton.

The summit of Old Mountain is very exposed, with a felled forest exposing the riders to wind. Fortunately for the leaders, it’s relatively calm today.

There is a very fast descent off Old Mountain. We are heading down from the summit, while the riders are climbing it.

13.31: Marcus Flavin( Down Newry) has been dropped from the break, leaving six in that group.

13.33: The gap is down to 32 seconds.

Race radio is breaking up a lot in the hills. Here’s a partial result for Slavery Hill and a full result for Old Mountain.

Category three Slavery Hill (km. 112.8):

1, Christopher Latham (Britain Team Wiggins)
2, Dexter Gardias (Britain Bike Channel Canyon)

Category two climb of Old Mountain (km. 119.5):

1, Gruffudd Lewis (Britain Madison Genesis)
2, Dexter Gardias (Britain Bike Channel Canyon)
3, Jan Willem Van Schip (Netherlands Delta Cycling Rotterdam)
4, Joey Walker (Britain Team Wiggins)
5, Przemyslaw Kasperkiewicz (Ireland An Post Chain Reaction)
6, Michael Storer (Australia National Team)

13.40: Race radio reception is pretty garbled, unfortunately. We think there are three leaders.

Correction – two leaders. They are Jacob Sitler (USA CCB Velotooler) and Michael Storer (Cycling Australia). They are 30 seconds clear.

Przemyslaw Kasperkiewicz (Ireland An Post Chain Reaction) has got back up to the two leaders.

13.47: They are now 47 seconds clear, so the gap is building.

We are not quite sure if the partial result for Slavery Hill is correct – Christopher Latham was not in the break.

13.50: We think Storer took the prime on Pinch mountain, ahead of Sitler. Apologies for uncertainty – race radio is very hit and miss.

The leaders are heading towards 20 kilometres to go.

13.51: In the overall KOM classification, Gruffudd Lewis (Britain Madison Genesis) is leading Dexter Gardias (Britain Bike Channel Canyon).

13.52: The leaders are at 20 kilometres to go. They are 55 seconds ahead of the chasing group at kilometre 131.2. The yellow jersey is in a group further back.

13.53: The leaders are now one minute clear.

13.55: The gap continues to grow – one minute and ten seconds.

13.56 : We drove on to the Gap of Mamore – it’s extremely steep. There is a great crowd at the top.

The yellow jersey is at two minutes 45 seconds. That’s game over.

13.57: The leaders are on the climb now. The race is going to blow to pieces on those slopes.

14.03: The leaders are one minute 40 ahead of the next group on the road. This chase group includes yesterday’s stage winner, Matthew Teggart (An Post Chain Reaction).

Correction: there is now one leader. Storer has pushed ahead of the others and is riding towards what he hopes will be a stage win.

He started the day 38th, three minutes and three seconds back. So yellow is unlikely.

14.07: The second group on the road is at one minute 35 seconds. It’s not clear if race radio is referring to Sitler and Kasperkiewicz, or those behind them.

14.10: Okay, clarification: Storer is through ten kilometres to go, and has a 30 second advantage on Sitler. Kasperkiewicz is a little further back, with the chase group at one minute.

14.12: Okay, update – Kasperkiewicz is at one minute 20.

Earlier, Storer was first to the top of Mamore, with Sitler second, Kasperkiewicz third and Mark Dowling fourth.
14.13: Sitler is losing ground: he’s at 45 seconds.

The last few kilometres are very twisting and turning, with undulations. It’s a complicated run-in to the line.

14.15: The chasing group contains 26 riders. Both Storer and Sitler were three minutes and three seconds back this morning, so the next race leader will likely come from the chase group.

This was the overall this morning:

1, Dennis Bakker (Netherlands Delta Cycling Rotterdam) 9 hours 35 mins 47 secs
2, Stéphane Poulhies (France Armée de Terre) at 22 secs
3, Matthew Teggart (Ireland An Post Chain Reaction)
4, Darragh O’Mahony (Ireland National Team)
5, Ian Bibby (Britain JLT Condor)
6, Troels Ronning Vinther (Denmark Riwal Platform Cycling)
7, Ike Groen (Netherlands Delta Cycling Rotterdam)
8, Jonas Aaen Jørgensen (Denmark Riwal Platform Cycling)
9, Philip Lavery (Tipperary Panduit)
10, Damien Shaw (Ireland An Post Chain Reaction)
11, Sean McKenna (Ireland An Post Chain Reaction)
12, James Gullen (Britain JLT Condor)
13, Ziga Rucigaj (Slovenia ROG Ljubljana) at 41 secs
14, Mitchell Mulhern (Netherlands Delta Cycling Rotterdam) at 1 min 22 secs
15, Samuel Welsford (Australia National Team) same time

So, it could be any one of a number of riders taking over at the top tonight. Suspenseful stuff!

14.16: Storer is at five kilometres to go… He is one minute clear of Sitler.

14.17: He’s got four kilometres to go… This is looking very good for him.

14.19: Confirmation that Kasperkiewicz is still in third. He is one minute 45 back, but just ten seconds ahead of the chase group. It’s going to be tough to hold them off, but he is doing a courageous ride in trying to do so.

14.20: He’s been caught by a 27-man chase group.

The leader is at two kilometres to go… Barring a crash or puncture, he should take this.

14.21: Sitler is inching closer. He’s at 48 seconds now, but will surely run out of time. Storer is at one kilometre to go.

14.23: Storer takes it! Great win…

He crosses the line and is congratulated by the team support staff.

Sitler takes second. Not quite sure who was third, but it might have been an Arme de Terre rider in third. Bear with us…

14.36: Morgan Kneisky was the Arme de Terre rider in third place. We are awaiting confirmation of more placings and the GC. Matthew Teggart is hoping he takes yellow; he started the day third overall.

14.38: And, yes, it appears he does have yellow…that’s great for the young An Post Chain Reaction rider.

14.56: Here are the provisional results:

An Post Rás stage 4, Bundoran to Buncrana:

1, Michael Storer (Australian National Team) 3 hours 18 mins 49 secs
2, Jacob Sitler (USA CCB Velotooler) at 1 min 23 secs
3, Morgan Kneisky (France Armée de Terre) at 1 min 26 secs
4, Matthew Teggart (Ireland An Post Chain Reaction)
5, Jonas Aaen Jørgensen (Denmark Riwal Platform Cycling)
6, Daan Meijers (Netherlands Delta Cycling Rotterdam)
7, Joe Evans (Britain Madison Genesis)
8, Ziga Rucigaj (Slovenia ROG Ljubljana)
9, Mark Downey (Ireland National Team)
10, Cameron Meyer (Australia National Team) all same time

Overall classification after four stages:

1, Matthew Teggart (Ireland An Post Chain Reaction) 12 hours 56 mins 24 secs
2, Troels Ronning Vinther (Denmark Riwal Platform Cycling)
3, Ike Groen (Netherlands Delta Cycling Rotterdam)
4, Jonas Aaen Jørgensen (Denmark Riwal Platform Cycling)
5, Damien Shaw (Ireland An Post Chain Reaction)
6, James Gullen (Britain JLT Condor) all same time
7, Ziga Rucigaj (Slovenia ROG Ljubljana) at 19 secs
8, Dennis Bakker (Netherlands Delta Cycling Rotterdam) at 55 secs
9, Morgan Kneisky (France Armée de Terre) at 1 min 2 secs
10, Daire Feeley (Galway Team iTap) same time

Points classification:

1, Dennis Bakker (Netherlands Delta Cycling Rotterdam) 36 points
2, Matthew Teggart (Ireland An Post Chain Reaction) 27
3, Christopher Latham (Britain Team Wiggins) 25

Mountains classification:

1, Michael Storer (Australia National Team) 26 points
2, Gruffudd Lewis (Britain Madison Genesis) 20
3, Jacob Sitler (USA CCB Velotooler) 20

Young rider:

1, Matthew Teggart (Ireland An Post Chain Reaction) 12 hours 56 mins 24 secs
2, Ziga Rucigaj (Slovenia ROG Ljubljana) at 19 secs
3, Daire Feeley (Galway Team iTap) at 1 min 2 secs

County rider overall:

1, Daire Feeley (Galway Team iTap) 12 hours 57 mins 26 secs
2, Philip Lavery (Tipperary Panduit) at 15 secs
3, Simon Ryan (Cork Strata3 / VeloRevolution) at 1 min 17 secs

So, as you can see, it’s very tight at the top. There are six riders on the same time. Yellow was decided by stage placings.

Those results are subject to confirmation: for example, not quite sure if Dennis Bakker will remain in the top ten. He had been in one of the groups behind the chase group.

Exciting day’s racing! We’ll leave it there for now – interviews to be done. Thanks for reading. Come back tomorrow for more..with the GC so tight, there will be plenty of motivation for attacks on stage five.

*****

An Post Ras 2017 stage 3

*****

Stage 3, Tuesday May 23: Newport to Bundoran (149 kilometres):

Another mainly flat and fast day, this will begin at the previous day’s finish line prior to heading through Glenhest, Crossmolina and Ballina en route to the sole An Post prime in Inishcrone (km 59.5). From there the route winds through Rathlee, Easkey, Dromore West, Templeboy, Dromard, Ballisadar, Rathcormac, Drumcliff and Ciffoney prior to racing into Bundoran and the final gallop to the line.

Donegal rider Ronan McLaughlin put in a massive display five years ago when the race last finished in the town, striking out seventy kilometres from the line in a solo move prior to being passed inside the final 100 metres. The then-An Post rider is now racing as an amateur and may take a slightly more conservative approach this time around, in terms of his timing, although going for the stage win will almost certainly be on his mind.

—–

10.58: Good morning and welcome to the live coverage from day three of the An Post Ras. We are in Newport, the riders are preparing for the off and the sun is out. Should be a great day.

Here’s race director Tony Campbell’s assessment of what the stage should have in store.

“This third day brings us up into Donegal. There will be plenty of climbing during the days we are in this area, although this stage is practically flat again. There are good roads for racing on.

“The stage goes to Bundoran. The last time we were here, Ronan McLaughlin was clear for a long, long time, and then caught with about 100 metres to go. It was a very dramatic finish. I think it will most likely be a bunch gallop.”

11.00: There is a piper playing as the seconds click down until the riders roll out. As before, we will be ahead of the first riders, using race radio for most information. We’ll hopefully be able to drop behind the lead riders if the gap between groups gets big enough.

11.02: After a neutralised zone of perhaps 200 metres, the race is on….

11.04: Four riders have jumped clear. They have been joined by a fifth and are trying to create a decent gap. d

11.05: However it’s all back together at 1.9 kilometres.

11.08: At the moment nine riders are 100 metres ahead of the main field. No names as yet – let’s see if this gets established.

11.10: The riders are Jake Gray (Ireland National Team), Damien Shaw (Ireland An Post Chain Reaction), Samuel Welsford (Australia National Team), Robert-Jon McCarthy (Britain JLT Condor), Troels Ronning Vinther (Denmark Riwal Platform Cycling), Mitchell Mulhern (Netherlands Delta Cycling Rotterdam), Ziga Rucigaj (Slovenia ROG Ljubljana), Anthony Walsh (Cork Aqua Blue Sport) and Philip Lavery (Tipperary Panduit).

11.12: There are also nine chasing riders. They are at 11 seconds.

The peloton is at 23 seconds.

11.15: The chasers are at ten seconds, so no real progress as yet. The peloton is 34 seconds back.

Those chasers are:

Matthew Teggart (Ireland An Post Chain Reaction)
Sean McKenna (Ireland An Post Chain Reaction)
Mitchell Webber (Britain Bike Channel Canyon)
Elliott Porter (Britain Neon Velo Cycling Team)
Jonas Aaen Jørgensen (Denmark Riwal Platform Cycling)
Stéphane Poulhies (France Armée de Terre)
Dennis Bakker (Netherlands Delta Cycling Rotterdam)
Ike Groen (Netherlands Delta Cycling Rotterdam)
Tilen Finkst (Slovenia ROG Ljubljana)

11.20: The nine leaders have been joined by nine chasers, so 18 out front.

11.22: The gap between the leaders and the bunch is 58 seconds at 15.6 kilometres. This group has a solid gap, although it remains to be seen if the 18 will work well together. Sometimes groups can be too big, and a whittling-down is needed before things work smoothly.

11.23: The peloton has been informed of the gap and a chase is on.

11.27: Looks like that chase is now off. At 18.8 kilometres, the gap is a considerable two minutes 25 seconds…that opened very quickly.

11.30: We’ve just received confirmation via race radio that there is another rider in the break – Troels Ronning Vinther (Denmark Riwal Platform Cycling).

He’s teammate of the race leader Nicolai Brochner Nielsen, who has missed the move.

Also absent are Thómas Rostollon (France Armée de Terre) and Christopher McGlinchey (Cycling Ulster). They had started the day fourth and seventh overall.

11.32: Time gap at kilometre 21.6: two minutes 45 seconds.

11.36: If this group cooperates, there could be a really considerable time gap this evening. Most of the strong teams are represented. As the time gaps overall are small at this point, it means that there are fewer GC positions to be protected, leading to less conservative racing.

11.43: The main field is split into a number of smaller groups, suggesting the hammer has gone down. The next time gap will be interesting.

11.45: At 33.3 kilometres the gap has dropped to one minute 50 seconds. So that’s almost two minutes less than it was 12 kilometres ago. The speed increase from the bunch has made a difference.

11.46: Morgan Kneisky (France Armée de Terre) and Simon Ryan (Cork Strata3 / VeloRevolution) have clipped away from the peloton. That’s not a good sign for the bunch, as it suggests the chase isn’t as organised as it might be. If the speed was consistently on it would be very difficult for a small group of riders to push ahead.

The number of teams represented out front decreases the number of those who will chase behind.

11.49: At 36.4 kilometres there is now a chasing group of nine riders.

Darragh O’Mahony (Ireland National Team)
James Gullen (Britain JLT Condor)
Ian Bibby (Britain JLT Condor)
George Atkins (Britain Bike Channel Canyon)
Morgan Kneisky (France Armée de Terre)
Matic Groselj (Slovenia ROG Ljubljana)
Simon Ryan (Cork Strata3 / VeloRevolution)
Daire Feeley (Galway Team iTap)
Sean Yelverton (Tipperary Panduit)

11.50: They are at one minute 45 seconds with the peloton at 2 minutes.

That’s the best scenario for Kneisky and Ryan – two would find it very difficult to get up to the 19 out front, but a committed group of nine have a better chance.

11.56: At 42.9 kilometres, the chasing nine are now at one minute 35 seconds. The peloton is at one minute 55 seconds. There’s over 100 kilometres to go yet to Bundoran and much could, and will, happen.

11.59: Latest time gap: one minute 30 to the chasers, so they have reduced their deficit by five seconds. The peloton is at one minute 50, also five seconds less than before, so that suggests the leaders have lost a little pace.

As mentioned before, the size of that front group may make it less efficient. It’s easier for riders to miss turns when the group is so large.

12.01: The leaders have just gone through Ballina. The time gaps are the same as before.

The leaders have covered 50 kilometres now. There are 99 kilometres to go today.

12.05: Average speed for the first hour of racing was 44.9 kilometres per hour.

Correction – there is 18 rather than 19 leaders. We had 19 names before so one of those must be incorrect.

There are eight chasers – one of those in pursuit sat up.

12.08: The race leader Brochner Nielsen is now driving the chase.

12.14: The peloton is now beginning to split in half. That’s an indication that the hammer has gone down.

Shaw won the An Post prime in Inishcrone (km 59.5).

12.17: No sooner said, the peloton reforms again. It seems to be stop-go racing in the bunch.

Shaw remained out front after going for that prime, and is five seconds clear.

12.19: The eight chasers have been making inroads and are just 48 seconds behind the leader now.

The peloton is at one minute 45 at 61.4 kilometres.

Clarification of the rider who went back from the chase group some time ago: it was Sean Yelverton (Tipperary Panduit).

12.24: Those chasers are inching closer…they are 44 second back. The peloton remains one minute 45 in arrears.

Michael O’Loughlin (Team Wiggins) is attempting to break clear of the main field. He’s a talented rider, but it’s going to be difficult to bridge. He will likely be hoping others will join him.

12.27: And that happens – Alexandar Richardson (Britain Bike Channel Canyon) gets up to him. So two chasing eight chasing eighteen.

12.28: At 68.7, the leaders are now 28 seconds ahead of the eight chasers.

12.31: At 70.9 kilometres, the chasers have caught the leaders. That makes it 26 leaders. O’Loughlin and Richardson are at one minute 35 seconds, and have been joined by two others. The peloton is ten seconds further back.

12.37: The four chasers are at one minute 30. Alexandre Blain (Britain Madison Genesis) tried to get across but was unable to do so. He’s now at two minutes 15 seconds, with the peloton at two minutes 45 seconds. That’s ominous for the yellow jersey.

12.40: Clarification: the four chasers are Michael O’Loughlin (Team Wiggins), Alexandar Richardson (Britain Bike Channel Canyon), Bryan Boussaer (Belgian National Team) and Jacob Silter (USA CCB Velotooler).

They are at one minute 26 seconds. Blain is closing, and is now at one minute 45 seconds. The peloton – and therefore the yellow jersey – is now three minutes back. He’s likely panicking at this point.

12.58: The chasers are at one minute 30. The roads ahead are wide open and straight heading towards Sligo, which may enable those in pursuit to see the break ahead. That will likely give them some encouragement.

Blain got close but never made it across to the four chasers. He has been joined by Sasha Weemaes (Belgian National Team), but they are a full four minutes and 26 seconds back now. Blain must have really slowed to lose that much time over the past 20 minutes. He clearly gave everything to try to bridge to the four ahead of him.

The bunch is at five minutes 15 seconds. It seems pretty clear there will be a new race leader at the end of the day.

13.17: After 104.5 kilometres of racing, the four chasers – Michael O’Loughlin (Team Wiggins), Alexandar Richardson (Britain Bike Channel Canyon), Bryan Boussaer (Belgian National Team) and Jacob Silter (USA CCB Velotooler) – are at one minute 40. They appear to be losing ground.

How far back is the bunch now?

Answer: four minutes and 45 seconds.

13.23: The chasers are now losing more time. After 110 kilometres, they are at two minutes and five seconds. There are only 39 kilometres left before the finish in Bundoran. It looks like this lead group will fight it out for the stage and also yellow.

The peloton is four minutes and 30 seconds back. It is accelerating, but unless the break really starts messing around it looks very unlikely this move will be caught.

13.27: Simon Ryan (Cork Strata3 / VeloRevolution) has attacked out of the break. He is 15 seconds ahead of the group.

13.31: The peloton is now four minutes and ten seconds back. The break split and eight riders got up to Ryan.

13.35: The lead group is:

Matthew Teggart (Ireland An Post Chain Reaction)
Ian Bibby (Britain JLT Condor)
George Atkins (Britain Bike Channel Canyon)
Elliott Porter (Britain Neon Velo Cycling Team)
Troels Ronning Vinther (Denmark Riwal Platform Cycling)
Ike Groen (Netherlands Delta Cycling Rotterdam)
Ziga Rucigaj (Slovenia ROG Ljubljana)
Simon Ryan (Cork Strata3 / VeloRevolution)
Philip Lavery (Tipperary Panduit)

These nine are 150 metres ahead of the remaining 17 riders. Meanwhile the four chasers are two minutes 35 down.

13.36: The 17 chasing the nine leaders are reducing their gap slightly. In fact, those leaders have been caught by the rest of the break. So, 26 leaders again.

Two minutes 35 to the four chasers.

They are inside the final 30 kilometres.

13.37: The yellow jersey has gone clear with a group, but they are still three minutes 55 back. The rest of the peloton is at four minutes 15.

13.39: The yellow jersey group is:

Przemyslaw Kasperkiewicz (Ireland An Post Chain Reaction)
Cameron Meyer (Australia National Team)
Edward Laverack (Britain JLT Condor)
Gruffudd Lewis (Britain Madison Genesis)
Nicolai Nielsen (Denmark Riwal Platform Cycling)
Thómas Rostollon (France Armée de Terre)
Seán Lacey (Cork Aqua Blue Sport)

Meanwhile the leading group is inside the final 25 kilometres of this stage. It has split and a dozen or so have pushed onwards.

13.41: Several other riders are getting up to the yellow jersey group.

13.45: The yellow jersey group is at three minutes 25 seconds.

13.49: Update: There are now 13 leaders. These are:

Darragh O’Mahony (Ireland National Team)
Damien Shaw (Ireland An Post Chain Reaction)
Matthew Teggart (Ireland An Post Chain Reaction)
Sean McKenna (Ireland An Post Chain Reaction)
James Gullen (Britain JLT Condor)
Ian Bibby (Britain JLT Condor)
Troels Ronning Vinther (Denmark Riwal Platform Cycling)
Jonas Aaen Jørgensen (Denmark Riwal Platform Cycling)
Stéphane Poulhies (France Armée de Terre)
Dennis Bakker (Netherlands Delta Cycling Rotterdam)
Ike Groen (Netherlands Delta Cycling Rotterdam)
Ziga Rucigaj (Slovenia ROG Ljubljana)
Philip Lavery (Tipperary Panduit)

These are 30 second ahead of the other 13 who were in the day’s break.

The four chasers – Michael O’Loughlin (Team Wiggins), Alexandar Richardson (Britain Bike Channel Canyon), Bryan Boussaer (Belgian National Team) and Jacob Silter (USA CCB Velotooler) – are at one minute 35.

The yellow jersey group has really accelerated and is now just one minute 45 seconds back. That’s impressive.

13.52: The leaders are entering Cliffney, at 134.4 kilometres. So, just under 15 kilometres left.

The 13 leaders are now 40 seconds ahead of the 13 chasers.

13.54: Now the second group is 48 seconds back. So, continuing to lose ground.

13.57: We wonder if that last time gap was inaccurate; the yellow jersey group is now said to be two minutes 25 kilometres back.

14.00: Now reports saying the jersey group is just 45 seconds behind the chasing group. An updated time check will be useful – stand by.

14.01: Okay, the jersey is at two minutes 38 seconds. The 13 chasers are 45 seconds back.

We’ve gone ahead to the finish in Bundoran and are awaiting the leaders. They are inside five kilometres to go…

14.03: The last time gap put the chasers at 50 seconds. So, it’s between the 13 leaders for the stage…and most likely yellow, too.

14.07: The leaders are in the last kilometre….

14.08: It’s a sprint…

Matthew Teggart (Ireland An Post Chain Reaction) wins the gallop! An Army de Terre rider was third, subject to confirmation. Might have been Team Wiggins in second. Bear with us..

14.09: Actually, think it was JLT Condor in second. Awaiting confirmation, but may have been Bibby.

14.11: There will be a new yellow jersey this evening.

Here’s the top three on the stage:

1, Matthew Teggart (Ireland An Post Chain Reaction)
2, Ian Bibby (Britain JLT Condor)
3, Stéphane Poulhies (France Armée de Terre)

Stand by for more…

14.15: That’s a great result for Teggart. His team is backed by An Post, as is the race. So the pressure is always on the squad to deliver here.

14.21: Still awaiting more results… Let’s see if we can confirm the new race leader.

Okay, it’s Dennis Bakker (Netherlands Delta Cycling Rotterdam). He also has the King of the Mountains at present, so it’s been a good three days for him…

Poulhies is now second overall with Teggart third…stand by for more detailed results.

Here you go – provisional results for this third stage:

An Post Rás (2.2)

Stage 3, Newport to Bundoran:

1, Matthew Teggart (Ireland An Post Chain Reaction) 149 kilometres in 3 hours 6 mins 8 secs
2, Ian Bibby (Britain JLT Condor)
3, Stéphane Poulhies (France Armée de Terre)
4, Dennis Bakker (Netherlands Delta Cycling Rotterdam)
5, Jonas Aaen Jørgensen (Denmark Riwal Platform Cycling)
6, Philip Lavery (Tipperary Panduit)
7, Darragh O’Mahony (Ireland National Team)
8, Damien Shaw (Ireland An Post Chain Reaction)
9, Ike Groen (Netherlands Delta Cycling Rotterdam)
10, Sean McKenna (Ireland An Post Chain Reaction) all same time

General classification:

1, Dennis Bakker (Netherlands Delta Cycling Rotterdam) 9 hours 35 mins 47 secs
2, Stéphane Poulhies (France Armée de Terre) at 22 secs
3, Matthew Teggart (Ireland An Post Chain Reaction)
4, Darragh O’Mahony (Ireland National Team)
5, Ian Bibby (Britain JLT Condor)
6, Troels Ronning Vinther (Denmark Riwal Platform Cycling)
7, Ike Groen (Netherlands Delta Cycling Rotterdam)
8, Jonas Aaen Jørgensen (Denmark Riwal Platform Cycling)
9, Philip Lavery (Tipperary Panduit)
10, Damien Shaw (Ireland An Post Chain Reaction) all same time

Points: Bakker
Mountains: Bakker
Young rider: Teggart
County rider (stage and overall): Lavery

Bakker has the lead in the general classification, the points competition and the mountains contest. So, a good day for him..

We’ll leave things there for now – interviews to do after the stage. Thanks for reading, come back tomorrow!

*****

An Post Ras 2017 – stage 2

*****

Stage 2, Monday May 22: Longford to Newport (142.9 kilometres)

Stage two of this year’s An Post Rás has a similar look to stage one in some ways, given that it also features three intermediate sprints. The first of those comes after the riders leave Longford and pass through Lanesborough, Ballyleague and Roscommon. It is located in Ballymoe and will play out after 48.7 kilometres of racing. This is followed just 9.1 kilometres later by the second An Post Prime, located in Williamstown (km. 57.8).

From there the peloton will entertain crowds in Cloonfad, Claremorris, Balla, Manulla and Kilnageer before the day’s third and final An Post Prime in Breaghwy (km. 108.5). This is located on the outskirts of Castlebar, after which the battle will pass through Westport prior to the conclusion at the finish in Newport.

—–

11.07: Good morning and welcome from Longford, where 190 riders have just begun stage two of this year’s An Post Rás.

The flag has officially dropped and the peloton is racing out of the town, en route to Newport.

This is race director Tony Campbell’s assessment of what’s in store.

“The second day is pretty flat, good racing roads. I think there will be a split and there will be a small group coming in together, like the last day we went into Newport. It should be an exciting stage.”

11.09: The first rider to attack today is David Watson (Down Bikehouse), who wants to get a group started early on.

He’s quickly hauled back.

11.14: At five kilometres, four riders are going clear of the bunch. No names have been announced as yet. Ah, that’s why – they are back in the bunch.

By the way, an explainer: We are doing the live coverage from one of the race cars. We are generally working off race radio, although when a break has a big enough advantage over the bunch we can drop in behind that group and work visually as well.

A word about the weather – it’s sunny at the moment, but there’s plenty of cloud too. It rained earlier but is dry now.

11.18: Three riders attacked. They didn’t get far, though, and that move has been brought back.

11.27: Countless other attacks have been fired off, to no avail. However a group now has a small advantage. Let’s see if it gets established or not.

As yesterday, we’ll list the names of riders if groups get established.

Given that a breakaway was able to stay clear yesterday, it’s likely the bunch will try to keep a closer control of things today. Many of the teams caught out won’t want to make the same mistake again.

11.32: There have been a succession of attacks. There’s plenty of racing happening but, thus far, no group has stayed clear.

It’s now spitting rain, but it’s inconsequential – not heavy yet.

11.34: Another group is going clear…

11.38: And now, like before, everything is back together. There is a very tight control on things thus far today.

11.44: The riders have covered 28.5 kilometres and, despite the numerous attempts by groups to get free, things are all together.

11.46: An interesting story about yesterday: one of the riders in the break, Dennis Bakker (Netherlands Delta Cycling Rotterdam) beat Thomas Rostollon (France Armee de Terre), Christopher McGlinchey (Cycling Ulster) and Nicolai Brochner Nielsen (Denmark Riwal Platform Cycling) to win the category three prime of Lough Crew.

As it was the day’s only categorised climb, that earned him the mountains jersey. At the time race radio stated that it would actually see him wear the jersey until stage four as there were no climbs on stages two and three. So, was it a predetermined plan by Bakker or his team to maximise publicity in the days ahead? Curiously, no; we’ve heard that he was pleasantly surprised to be told yesterday that he’d have the jersey so long, having been unaware that there are no categorised climbs in the next couple of days.

11.50: Ten riders were clear, but nine have been brought back. One rider continued onwards: Cameron Meyer of the Australian national team.

If his name sounds familiar, that’s because he was a WorldTour professional for many years. He competed with Garmin-Slipstream between 2009 and 2011, Orica GreenEdge between 2012 and 2015 and Team Dimension Data last season.

However last year he walked away from his contract. He later clarified his decision, saying that he wanted to refocus on track racing and mentoring young riders. His participation in the An Post Rás is part of the latter.

That return to focussing on the track has paid off: he took gold medals earlier this year in the track world championship, winning the points race and team pursuit.

Earlier in his career, he took overall wins in the Tour Down Under and the Herald Sun Tour, as well as a time trial stage in the Tour de Suisse and team time trial victories in the Giro d’Italia and the Tour de France.

If he’s got good road form, he could be one of the big danger men this week.

11.53: Two riders are going clear. They are Sean McKenna (Ireland An Post Chainreaction) and Daan Meijers (Netherlands Delta Cycling Rotterdam).

They are being chased by Alexander Richardson (Britain Bike Channel Canyon).

11.54: At kilometre 36, Richardson gets across to the leaders. There is now a three man group out front.

11.55: Now Eoin Morton (Ireland national team) is bridging across.

The peloton reacts and has brought Morton back. The three leaders only have a couple of seconds over the splintering main field.

11.57: There are now eight leaders. No names announced as yet, so it’s unclear if the previous three leaders are part of this group.

We’ll give more information when we get it.

12.01: Change at the front: now Meyer attacks again and pushes onwards, being joined by Jonas Jorgensen (Denmark Riwal Platform).

However they have been caught. All the racing has provoked a split in the peloton, with between 20 and 25 riders ahead.

12.04: At 43.9 kilometres, Stephane Poulhies (France Armee de Terre) tries to get clear. He opens a small gap but it is then closed down.

Poulhiès has won stages in the Etoile de Besseges and Kreiz Breizh, as well as the overall classification of the 2015 Tour de Gironde.

12.06: There is still a split in the bunch so let’s see if it develops into something or if things come back together.

Meyer, Przemyslaw Kasperkiewicz (Ireland An Post Chain Reaction) and Dennis Bakker (Netherlands Delta Cycling Rotterdam) are the ones forcing the pace at the front and trying to get a move clear.

45.7 kilometres were covered in the first hour.

12.11: That split is still ahead. It is 25 seconds ahead of the peloton.

Meanwhile Ian Bibby (Britain JTL Condor) has taken the first sprint of the day.

12.12: Confirmation that 32 riders are in the front part of the split.

They are now 28 seconds ahead.

12.14: This has now come down to 22 seconds. Will it stay ahead? There are plenty of strong riders up there, but it remains to be seen if they will work together or not.

12.19: It looks like things are coming back together.. just 100 metres between those two groups now.

12.23: All together at 57.4 kilometres. They are about to dispute the second An Post Prime, located in Williamstown (km. 57.8).

Matic Groselj (Slovenia ROG Ljubljana) takes that prime.

12.26: Now two riders are attacking: Mark Dowling (Cork Strata3 / VeloRevolution) and Daire Feeley (Galway Team iTap).

Mark is the son of Mick Dowling, former Irish international boxer. He took two bronze medals at the Europeans and finished fourth in the 1972 Munich Olympics in the bantamweight division.

They have been recaptured.

12.29: Now Craig Rea (Antrim Phoenix) and Dermot Trulock (Donegal Voodoo Performance) attack.

They have been joined by two others, and now more riders are trying to bridge.

Jonas Aaen Jørgensen(Denmark Riwal Platform Cycling), Jan Willem Van Schip(Netherlands Delta Cycling Rotterdam) and Fintan Ryan(Westmeath Team Planet X Carnac) are the chasers. We didn’t get the two who joined the leading duo but everything is back together once more.

The bunch has covered 65.8 kilometres. Today’s stage is 142.9 kilometres, so they are getting close to half way.

12.39: Sean Lacey (Cork Aqua Blue Sport) has a slight lead.

12.43: He has been joined by four others – Sean McKenna (Ireland An Post Chain Reaction), Marc Potts (Britain Neon Velo Cycling Team), Ike Groen (Netherlands Delta Cycling Rotterdam) and Simon Ryan (Cork Strata3 / VeloRevolution).

12.55: With 82.5 kilometres covered, they have 36 seconds.

13.01: The bunch continues to chase the leaders. The gap is now 28 seconds. A small chase group of six or seven riders is going clear entering Claremorris. In fact, that’s two groups going clear in pursuit.

13.08: After a lot of racing, things have all closed up again. But it’s just a matter of time until the next break goes.

13.11: There are now nine leaders, ten seconds ahead. They are Sean McKenna (Ireland An Post Chain Reaction), Ian Bibby (Britain JLT Condor), Thomas Moses (Britain JLT Condor), Michael O’Loughlin (Britain Team Wiggins), Jonas Aaen Jørgensen (Denmark Riwal Platform Cycling), Ike Groen (Netherlands Delta Cycling Rotterdam), Daan Meijers (Netherlands Delta Cycling Rotterdam), Seán Lacey (Cork Aqua Blue Sport) and Simon Ryan (Cork Strata3 / VeloRevolution).

These are 15 seconds ahead of a chase group of about 15 riders. The peloton is 28 seconds back.

13.22: At 102.2 kilometres. The 21 chasers have caught the nine leaders. 30 leaders.

13.25: Barriers at a railway crossing have come down! The race has been stopped.

Under UCI rules, it would normally be restarted with the same time gaps. However as the gap is less than 30 seconds, they will all start together again. That’s a shame for the break – the riders worked hard to get their gaps.

13.32: The prime at Breaghwy (km. 108.5) was taken by Noah Granigan (CCB Velotooler). Just before it he jumped clear with Eoin Morton (Ireland National Team), and now they have 12 seconds.

A reminder – Morton won stage two of last year’s race, and has been motivated today. He’s trying to make history repeat itself.

13.34: The gap is down to ten seconds.

13.38: They have been caught and Edward Laverack (Britain JLT Condor) and Alexandar Richardson (Britain Bike Channel Canyon) have pushed ahead.

We’ve no idea why as yet, but Gerben Thijssen (Belgian National Team) has been disqualified from the race. Towing, or something else? Hopefully clarification later.

Mark Dowling (Cork Strata3/Velorevolution) has joined the two leaders, making it three out front.

13.43: Damien Shaw (Ireland An Post Chainreaction) has jumped across. Jan Van Schip (Netherlands Delta Cycling Rotterdam) is also bridging.

Meanwhile the Belgian team car has been summoned to the commissaire’s car. That’s presumably relating to Thijssen’s disqualification.

13.47: The five leaders are working well together, and now have a 50 second gap…!

And now clarification that Thijssen has been allowed back into the race. No idea what that was about. We weren’t given any extra information other than he was out, and is now back in again.

13.55: The leaders are through 20 kilometres to go. They are 57 seconds ahead…that’s the best gap all day.

13.57: It’s now one minute…

13.58: With 16 kilometres left, it’s now 55 seconds…

14.01: Now 45 seconds…it’s coming back, little by little. Bunch sprint?

14.04: As the leaders race into Westport, it’s 38 seconds. The peloton is relentless in chomping down on the lead.

14.09: We have gone on to the finish and are awaiting the riders… There’s a very slight rise to the finish line in Newport, but nothing that would suit the climbers. It’s a technical finish with a 90 degree left hand turn with about 200 metres to go.

14.12: The leaders are inside the final eight kilometres and have just 18 seconds…it’s looking very unlikely they will stay clear. Still, they will keep trying…

14.14: Van Schip attacked and, with five kilometres to go, he has a 13 second lead on the others in the move…

14.15: With four kilometres to go, the others have been caught. He’s still out front, and has 22 seconds….great ride.

14.16: It’s now 28 seconds..

14.17: He’s inside three kilometres to go…

He’s got 23 seconds…

14.18: Now 21 seconds…

14.19: He’s at one kilometre to go, and still clear… .

14.19: 500 metres to go…

14.20: He does it! Superb win…really impressive…

We think Chris Latham of Team Wiggins was the winner of the bunch sprint, taking second…

One of the Armee de Terre riders was third..

14.25: Here’s a provisional result:

An Post Rás (2.2)

Stage two, Longford to Newport:

1, Jan Willem Van Schip (Netherlands Delta Cycling Rotterdam)
2, Christopher Latham (Britain Team Wiggins)
3, Yannis Yssaad (France Armée de Terre)
4, Matteo Cigala (Cork Aqua Blue Sport)
5, Andrew Tennant (Britain Team Wiggins)
6, Dennis Bakker (Netherlands Delta Cycling Rotterdam)
7, Daan Meijers (Netherlands Delta Cycling Rotterdam)
8, Robert-Jon McCarthy (Britain JLT Condor)
9, Dexter Gardias (Britain Bike Channel Canyon)
10, Richard Maes (Kerry Killarney) all same time

General classification:

1, Nicolai Brochner Nielsen (Denmark Riwal Platform Cycling) 6 hours 29 mins 30 secs
2, Dennis Bakker (Netherlands Delta Cycling Rotterdam) at 9 secs
3, Przemyslaw Kasperkiewicz (Ireland An Post Chain Reaction) same time
4, Thómas Rostollon (France Armée de Terre) at 15 secs
5, Alexandre Blain (Britain Madison Genesis) at 23 secs
6, Jan Willem Van Schip (Netherlands Delta Cycling Rotterdam) at 24 secs
7, Christopher McGlinchey (Cycling Ulster) at 28 secs
8, Christopher Latham (Britain Team Wiggins) at 31 secs
9, Matteo Cigala (Cork Aqua Blue Sport)
10, Robert-Jon McCarthy (Britain JLT Condor) both same time

Points: Latham
Mountains: Bakker
Young rider: Sasha Weemaes (Belgian National Team)
County rider: McGlinchey

So, no change to the race lead, although Van Schip moves up four places to sixth.

14.40: We’ll leave it there for now – interviews to be done! That was a dramatic finish, and an impressive ride by the winner. Come back tomorrow for more from the An Post Ras…

*****